Archive for the ‘Growth’ Category.

Why are we so stressed? ll By: Rich Brodt

Why are we so stressed?
By: Rich Brodt

Gallup’s 2019 Global Emotions report was recently released; it revealed that Americans are among the most highly stressed people in the world. America has the largest Gross Domestic Product in the world, an economy that has enjoyed the highest growth in the world in the past year, and people who live here enjoy more freedoms than people in many other places in the world. Yet, people are still stressed, anxious and worried for many of their waking hours. While we should not be surprised that a high GDP does not lead to decreased stress, the lack of other information available leads me to search for reasons why Americans are so stressed out.

For me, at least one of the answers seems to be embedded in American culture. As a whole, it seems that Americans value success, ambition, innovation and the collection of material possessions. These ideals put pressure on individuals to work towards these values even when they are not particularly important to the individual. Many seek success, financial gain, acquirement of possession not because they strongly identify with these values, but because they feel societal pressure to meet these standards. Social media and the news media just compound this stress.

Social media’s impact is becoming more and more apparent. It creates a space outside of reality where individuals can curate a particular image for themselves, filter and edit photos as they choose and then release those curated images for mass consumption. This allows an individual to project an image of themselves that is not accurate. These images are consumed by other individuals who then become envious of this person’s lifestyle despite its lack of basis in reality. We see an image of a lifestyle that is probably unattainable for most people, we see an individual who is claiming to live that lifestyle, and we assume that we can also find a way to do so. But the reality is that most people are pretending. This pretending leads to positive validation in the form of likes and comments. In essence, people are creating a dishonest version of their life for the purpose of having that dishonest version publicly praised. It is easy to see how this can lead to a disconnection from our true, genuine selves with individual values. How can that lead to anything resembling joy or happiness?

The images used to market products to us are not dissimilar to the images we are finding more and more on social media. In fact, many regular people who post on social media are now being approached to market products, which creates even more pressure for them to maintain an image. We also feel the need to purchase these products in order to attain a similar lifestyle to the person we observe on social media. This leads people to overspend, get into massive amounts of debt, and feel no better off for what they have spent their money on. Thus the cycle continues as that debt often causes long-term financial issues. Those that consume social media are constantly being marketed to both by the people they follow and by independent advertisers that now have unfettered access to their personal browsing and shopping habits. This compounds the problem, leading to more impulsive purchases and increased debt.

While the above addresses the burdens of financial debt and pressure to maintain a certain image, the current political climate must also play a large part in American stress levels. Since the election in 2016, the country has never felt more divided. Both sides are absolutely sure that they know what is right 100% of the time. This has lead to a severe lack of connection and lack of dialogue between people with differing viewpoints. If we avoid people who have different political beliefs than us, we are cutting out nearly 50% of the population, and basically judging their entire character based on what candidate they support. We are closing ourselves off when we are not able to see past a single viewpoint. We are creating a climate of adversarial interactions where people always feel like they are on the defensive. This is no way to create a dialogue. As a result we are losing our sense of connection to others, which is essential for feelings of well-being.

Many of these issues come from our individual attachments, to our beliefs, to our political views, and mostly to being right. We seek information that confirms our beliefs, and we block out the information that does not. We actually have less of a role in this than we might think. Internet search algorithms are designed to lead us to a space where our firmly held beliefs will be confirmed, and those opposing ideas are filtered out. This leads to a lack of empathy for anyone but the group that we identify with. This is a dangerous direction for a nation to be headed. We need to close our computers, put down our phones, and try to see and accept one another.


About Rich Brodt
I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 3 ll Mary Coday Edwards

May 14, 2019
Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 3
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

John of the Cross wrote his Dark Night of the Soul as a guidebook for monastics, those who would dedicate themselves to a spiritual life through community, meditation, and various forms of service. I follow Thomas Moore’s lead (1), who looks at it less technically and sees it as a period of transformation.

In Part 1, I defined soul from a Jungian perspective. In Part 2 I gave more definitions, including spiritual transformation, soul from a religious perspective, sadness, and clinical depression or Major Depressive Disorder—including its symptoms.

Signposts of a Dark Night

Lack of consolation from our spiritual practice is a common signpost. We then work harder on its spiritual disciplines: we pray, we fast, we go to more meetings, more retreats; we sit longer on the meditation cushion. These disciplines in the past brought us a measure of joy and deep peace. Now they don’t. We go to a mental health specialist. We want some sort of drug to make these sad feelings GO AWAY.

Plans go awry. A deep ennui sets in. “What’s wrong with me?” we ask. Our postmodern society might call it an existential crisis. Similar in definition, it consists of when life loses its meaning for an individual. The same sort of questions haunt an existential crisis: “What is my purpose on this planet? Is there a set of predetermined convictions? How should I live my life?”

But if we name the pain and loss as an existential crisis, it’s too easy to ignore the soul. Existential crisis implies: “I can fix this. I just need to change my thinking. If I can come up with the right answers to my problems, everything will be okay.” Or “I need a new partner, house, car, vacation, etc.” Fill in the blank. It’s ego-driven. After all, the ego may have done a great job of protecting us so far, and it’s hesitant to give up that control to a nebulous other piece called “soul,” along with soul’s counterpart, “intuition.”

 

When we look to our soul’s wanderings, we move into mystery, symbols, and mythos.

This is another form of knowing outside our Western emphasis on brain, head, and thinking. If we turn to ego, we’re relying on the same tool that got us into this pickle to get us out of it. It’s inadequate. It may have served us for what Bill Plotkin calls our “survival dance,” it won’t help up in this next stage of transformation, which Plotkin names our “sacred dance” (2).

Common Reasons

Two common reasons lead into a dark night and a crumbling worldview:

1.) you’re not living your life, but what your parents, teachers, religious institution, or society says you ought to be doing, thinking, or believing.

2.) and related to No. 1, we remain an adolescent long past the time it’s time to be an adult.

Jung believed our psyches carry a deep-seated drive for integration, particularly our unconscious with our conscious lives. And that includes everything we’ve stuffed down into the shadows, including that which ego has deemed unworthy. If you’ve been living a lie, letting the ego and persona rule the roost, eventually your soul says, “ENOUGH.” At first it comes as whisper, but the more it’s ignored, the louder it becomes. Something comes along—external or internal: a long illness or a troubled marriage, a family crisis, or a career shift, for example. Sometimes an unshakeable, emotional inner mood grabs hold of us.

My work as a People House minister allows me the privilege of journeying alongside troubled individuals when they come to me carrying pieces of their shattered lives they’re trying to glue and/or duct tape back together. They’re unhappy and want life to return to how it was. What life they had might not have been perfect, but it was better than this.

 

Women, caring for others all their lives, tell me, “I don’t know who I am. I don’t know what I like, dislike, or what I want.”

Creatives show up, feeling like failures because no longer can they force the deepest parts of who are they into the molds our dominant culture wants to squeeze them into. They have looked into their souls and feel them lacking. They live with constant judgment of falling short of what their loved ones expect of them.

And all the while, their true essence, buried deep in their souls/unconscious/psyches, sits huddled in a dark corner, rejected and in pain, imprisoned behind a thick wall.

 

A deep desolation typically accompanies your soul’s cry for help.

No longer can you cut yourself off from soul, that which carries so much energy. No longer can you pretend that everything is okay, that you can just buckle down and slog through life without that which gives you life.

And all the while, down in the dungeon, in the shadows, huddles our spark. Our true essence. And if we choose to ignore it, to push it down, eventually it will find the cracks in our persona.

We base our lives on beliefs and values that we presume to be rock solid. In reality, they’re more like earth’s shifting tectonic plates: our worldview continuously needs updating. The forces of life deep within us cannot be contained—best to integrate them consciously vs. letting them rule us unconsciously.

 

In my next blog I’ll talk about living with a dark night. Meanwhile, pay attention to the deepest parts of who you are.

To go in the dark with a light is to know light.

To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight.

And find that the dark, too, blooms and sings.

And is traveled by dark feet and dark wings. (4)

_____

Notes & Sources:

1.) The best resource I have found on determining if it’s a dark night of the soul or a clinical depression requiring the attention of a mental health professional is Thomas Moore’s book, Dark Nights of the Soul, A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. Penguin Random House. 2004.

2.) Plotkin, Bill. Soulcraft: Crossing into the Mysteries of Nature and Psyche. New World Library. 2003.

3.) For Christians, a good book is John of the Cross for Today: The Dark Night, by Susan Muto. Ave Maria Press. 1991.

4.) Wendell Berry, from “To Know the Dark,” in Farming: A Handbook. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich. 1967.

Embedding Rejection as a Spiritual Practice ll By Erin Amundson

Embedding Rejection as a Spiritual Practice
By Erin Amundson

As I considered what I most wanted to share through writing this week, I reflected just how prevalent the theme of rejection is all around me right now. 

Brene Brown’s Netflix Special encourages us to embrace it as a part of living a courageous life.  Brendan Burchard published a newsletter highlighting the initial rejection of his now #1 New York Times Best Selling book The Motivation Manifesto and a woman’s group I participate in has devoted the entire month of April to the theme of this topic.

On a more personal level, I’ve been rejected from a Catholic Monastary turned event center for not being the right kind of spiritual.  I’ve been accepted, then rejected, then re-accepted by a co-working company to lead a personal power workshop for their members, I invited friends to get together, was declined, only to find out they already had plans with each other, without me. 

Now, I’m an adult, and I practice my spirituality daily.  So I can handle rejection, right?  The truth is, I do handle it pretty well, but it seems as though the universe has decided to see if I can get a little bit better at it.  So, I’d like to share what I’ve learned about rejection.

1. It’s necessary for success. In the last week, I’ve heard this come out of the mouths of many successful people from best selling authors, to movie stars, to business owners I admire (or if I’m honest, sometimes envy).  The idea is to be proud of your own courage, and then to get curious about why things didn’t go the way you wanted.  Explore the truth behind your rejection and you’ll get better at what you’re trying to do. 

2. It HURTS sometimes. Even when we put our big kid pants on.  When my friends had plans without me, it took a little bit of time to work that out.  But when rejection hurts, working it out is necessary.  If we don’t work it out, we end up shrinking and contracting from our lives.  We start to play it safe and we stop showing up.  Or we passive aggressively punish the people who we feel rejected by.

3. It can be a blessing. Sometimes I want something so badly, I fail to listen to my intuitive voice telling me it’s actually not right.  Not the right relationship, not the right career choice, not the right living space, not the right speaking gig, etc.  When something in your life doesn’t work out and you feel rejected, please get curious once again, and have faith that the universe has your back.  Usually, there’s something better than you could’ve dreamed just waiting for you. 

4. When I REFUSE to reject myself, rejection from the outside has less power.   Having self-compassion, commitment and true love assures that no rejection from an outside person or entity can determine your path.  Sometimes, we are rejected because we are in the wrong zone, or we’ve done wrong.  Most times, however, the reasons people reject us have nothing to do with us.  If there is no constructive feedback for you to consider, from a VALID source (meaning someone who respects you and has integrity and compassion), feel free to remind yourself of how lovable you are.  Feel free to remind yourself of your gifts, your wins, and your true essence.  Stay loyal to yourself, ESPECIALLY when others are not. 

As I’ve considered my own relationship to rejection this past month, my hope is that you do too.  I’d love to see more of us commit to living courageously, as Brene Brown invites us to do.  I’d love to see more of us loving ourselves enough to truly connect to our gifts and then offer them freely (but not for free) in the world.  If you, like many others, struggle with rejection in your life, please consider finding a worthy coach, mentor or therapist who can help you develop a better relationship with it so that you can add your shine to our world that so desperately needs it right now. 

 


Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Assumptions and Judgments: Are They Ruining Your Relationships? ll By Dorothy Wallis

Assumptions and Judgments: Are They Ruining Your Relationships?
By Dorothy Wallis

   We all do it, make assumptions about the intentions of others.  Words or a behavior of someone disturbs your sense of self or connection and you get triggered from the wounded place inside of you.  Suddenly your thoughts go to the worst scenario about them or your relationship with them.  Your mind goes off into a story about the meaning of their words, actions or inaction and it gets magnified.  These unconscious habits create misunderstandings, conflict, fights and assumptions about the intentions of the other person or their version of the truth.  Whenever you claim to know what was “really” going on inside of another, you are sure to induce a collision of realities.  The battle becomes “whose version is right?”  In all probability neither of you is 100% correct.  

Truth or Story?

   Assumptions are suppositions or theories that are not based upon certain truth.  They are conclusions based upon prior experience, preconceived notions, biases and even prejudice.  When you understand that an assumption is an assertion of truth rather than a fact then an assumption is an important element for discovering the truth.  Whereas judgment is, “the ability to make considered decisions or come to sensible conclusions.” It is also “the process of forming an opinion or evaluation by discerning and comparing.”  Good judgment employs critical thinking, which involves evaluating facts and observable phenomena leading to reasonable conclusions.  Are your assumptions coming from first hand knowledge or from an outside source, second hand gossip or something conjured up in your imagination?  Assumptions and judgments become a liability when you “Jump” to a conclusion and leave out the sensible part or have not checked out the facts.  These evaluations can form out of a habitual way of seeing someone instead of being present to the reality of the person in front of you.

“Real magic in relationships means an absence of judgment of others.” 

~ Wayne Dyer

Everyday Assumptions

   You are at work and you walk past your office mate and she is talking in hushed tones to another coworker.  When they see you, they suddenly stop their conversation and look away.  What races through your mind?  Are they talking about you?  You might think they are mad at you, or ignoring you, or they don’t like you, or don’t want to include you, or are dissing you in some other way.  If your partner comes home and doesn’t bother to say anything to you and goes straight to the bedroom or office, what do you think is happening?  Do you think the behavior is about you?  If your wife is working overtime night after night or your husband is continually leaving on another business trip, you may create the story that they don’t care about you.  Perhaps your partner lies on the couch every night and doesn’t talk or want to do anything.  Do you fear he or she is no longer interested in being with you?  Do you judge them as being lazy or irresponsible?  When people are grumpy, sad, distant, angry or rude or haven’t connected with you in a long time, do you start to wonder about the stability of your relationship with them?

   Notice your first thoughts.  Do you believe that whatever is going on with them has to do with you, or is your first thought that this person is experiencing something that is about them?  What is the difference in your response to each?

   Your inner assumptions will change depending upon the meaning you give the behavior of the other person.  This will also affect the way you interact.  You may be more inclined to approach a friend or partner with curiosity, caring and wonder when you believe something is going on with them that has nothing to do with you.

“It is Unreasonable to Believe that You will Unconditionally Receive Everything You Need In Relationship Including Love”  ~ Dorothy Wallis

Assumptions based Upon Expectations

   We go into relationship with friends and loved ones with a bucket load of expectations.  Most of these come from our image of what constitutes our perception of relationship and what we desire from it.  The biggest assumption is expecting our needs to be met with the presumption that others will magically know how to love and care for us.  This pressure of expectation is especially apparent in intimate partner relationships.  Your partner comes from a different set of needs and perceptions about relationship and how to love.  It is up to you to let your partner know what makes you happy, your preferences, and how to love you.

   No one goes through life unscathed.  You both have a history of hurt that enters making it unreasonable to believe that you will unconditionally receive everything you need.  Difficulties will arise.  You learn how to love yourself and others through the ups and downs and disappointments in relationship.  It is the best way to discover what you need and what helps you grow.  Heartful communication and negotiation opens a door to understand your own needs and desires and your loved one’s.

Assumptions based Upon Past Experience

   If there has been tension or an ongoing issue in your relationship that is unresolved your perception of the other person will include judgments from your recent experience.  Perhaps your friend or partner has lied to you or betrayed you in the past.  It is easy to leap into hasty judgment and suspicion when incongruities in their words or behavior occur.  It can throw you into a deeply wounded place.  You may bypass being curious and checking out what is going on with them in the present moment.  Their past actions and behaviors are certainly pertinent and not to be ignored.  Yet, negative assumptions and conclusions can build into an explosive dynamic when you respond from a wounded place instead of reasoned awareness.

“Sometimes our childhood experiences are emotionally intense, which can create strong mental models.  These experiences and our assumptions about them are then reinforced in our memory and can continue to drive our behavior as adults.”  ~ Elizabeth Thornton

Illusion and the Wounded Self

   Everyone has core wounds from growing up in the world.  These surface most often in intimate relationships.  Partners are especially designed to irritate your wounds and provoke a reaction.  Negative encounters will do it.  But even changes of mood or behavior and words or phrases said in an “off hand way” by another that remind you of a past painful experience may trigger your wounds of rejection, separation, withdrawal or abandonment.  These can bring up feelings of not being accepted, capable, worthy, or the belief that something is terribly wrong with you or any feeling that disconnects you from your true self.  Fear is at the core and creates a cascading pattern of reaction.  Your reaction can range from withdrawal and distance to moving toward or against the other to protect yourself from touching the tender and vulnerable places that hurt.  The wound activates the survival mode, which contains the enormity of the past and puts it in the here and now.  Your senses have entered a virtual reality of past pain and hurt, which blinds you to the present.  As Eckhart Tolle says, you have identified with your pain body.

   When the pain body arises you are immersed in the illusion of the past and assumptions are made from past awareness without the truth of the present.  Just because you are experiencing an emotion does not make it true now.  You have disengaged from actual reality and from the person in front of you.  This is a problem because it also re-creates the pain inside of you.  As you might imagine, you will do everything possible to stop the pain.  Your mind attempts to understand the situation in order to alleviate the pain and immediately retrieves past memories and information without the context of the present.  Assumptions and judgments are made and you believe it as truth without further investigation.  This actually causes you more pain instead of relieving it.

   Have you ever been in this cycle?  Did you notice how the pain increases and anger or rejection is inflamed?  Did you ever attack someone with accusations, resentment, blame and anger or reject them and withdraw while in the trance of the pain body?

“The relationship that tests/frustrates/irritates you the most actually is one of your greatest blessings.  Why? Because it reveals to you the very beliefs/fears and false assumptions that most limit you.”
~ Robin S. Sharma

Moving Out of the Trance Pattern

   Pulling yourself back begins with being aware of your patterns of reactivity.  You have to realize that you have identified with the pain body.  Bring your attention inward and notice what is happening physically inside of your body.  You might feel an upward rush of energy in your body or a contraction of your energy.  You may experience a “shame attack” where your self-esteem shrinks or you have a feeling of insecurity.  Notice the rhythm and speed of your heartbeat.  Your bodily temperature may become hot or cold.  Relax into a pause or a temporary silence.  Let the racing of your mind calm.  The awareness itself brings your consciousness back into the present moment.

   The old reactivity patterns are strategic for survival but you don’t want to be living in survival mode.  It creates premature judgment and often faulty assumptions.  The greatest goal of your survival instinct is to be safely connected.  The task in relationship is to be open and face whatever is presented.  Receptivity allows what is actually occurring between you and another person.  Anytime internal agitation arises the survival strategies come forward.  Be aware, let the reactive pattern go, assess what is true in the moment and base your response on what you discover.  Recognize that this moment is happening now and not in the past or future.

“To Increase our Objectivity, We must Learn to Switch Off the Mini-movies. Objectivity Requires us to be Mindful, Present in the Moment, and Experiencing what is Happening Without Judgment.”
~ Elizabeth Thornton

Presence with Discernment

   Presence brings you face to face with reality.  Here is another human being.  They too have experienced pain and if they are agitated then their wounds have surfaced.  You begin to see the suffering they are experiencing.  You are focused in reality as it is happening and not in illusion.  In this state of receptive consciousness, you no longer are compelled to retaliate.  From a compassionate place, you ask about the experience of the other person.  You can hold the intrinsic usefulness of assumptions without letting them override your judgment.  You are open to hearing their thoughts, feelings, intentions and perspective.  You are able to distinguish between the beliefs they have about you that are true from those that are not.  Instead of the need to defend yourself, you can be honest about your behaviors and intentions while not taking their perspective personally.  Memories of the past will remain but the contrary emotions do not engage.  Often this is enough to resolve whatever has occurred between you.

   Discernment allows you to grasp what was once obscure.  Following the path of presence allows you to move out of your pain body giving you an intimate sense and love of your true self.  You meet the people in your life with acceptance and tolerance leading to true understanding and compassion.  Your relationships thrive because you are not caught in illusion and an old story.  You release your judgments about others and experience them in the fresh context of Now.

Checklist of Good Practices

• Tether Your First Impressions.  Don’t Assume the Worst.

• Don’t Be Shy.  Instead of Hurling Accusations, Check out Your Assumptions.

• Where Does it Hurt?  Look at What is Really Bothering You.

• Be Honest about Your Reality.

• Curb Your Expectations of Others.

• People Can’t Read Your Mind; Tell Them What is Really Important to You.

• Listen….and Listen…and Listen without Preconceptions.

• Let Go.  You Don’t Need to Take it Personally.  Remember, Everyone has Their Opinion.

• Let Go Again and Again of Needing to Be Right.

• Give Yourself a Round of Appreciation for Your Awareness and Presence

For Further Guidance and Reflection:
Coming to Center: What to Do When You Are Triggered
​Relational Awareness: Conscious Communication Matters

************************************************************************

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is a Psychotherapist, Clinical Hypnotherapist and an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing for individuals and couples based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 2 ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 2
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

As I said in my last blog, dark nights of the soul result from the pressures building under the oceanic tectonic plates of our unconscious worldview, readying to propel a tsunami that will forever rearrange our surface lives.

But before we proceed further, more definitions are in order, including spiritual transformation, soul from a religious perspective, clinical depression or Major Depressive Disorder, and sadness.

In an earlier blog I discussed spiritual , and basically it’s what brings meaning to our lives, usually through our sacred practices, disciplines, and rituals. Dark nights of the soul occur when that meaning fails us.

Our psyche is pushing for an upgrade to our operating system

We then work harder at our sacred disciplines, blaming ourselves for the fact that what used to bring us a measure of peace doesn’t anymore. Advice from well-meaning people increases the pain: “You must not be mediating right or long enough. You need a retreat.” Or “Well, God doesn’t change, so it must be you. What are you doing wrong?” And more.

What’s happened is that we’ve outgrown our world picture, our worldview—it’s not working anymore. AND THAT’S OKAY. Our psyche is pushing for an upgrade, time to update that old operating system or maybe jettison it in its entirety. Crudely summarizing John of the Cross’ reasons for a dark night: we have incomplete and inadequate ideas about ourselves and/or God—however we define Ultimate Reality. The box we’ve put ourselves in can’t contain us anymore, and it’s not meant to.

This upgrade comes in the form of spiritual transformation, which will leave us with a greater sense of who we are and our purpose in this world. Perhaps our outdated meaning was passed onto us by our parents, our teachers, or our culture. We’ve never consciously made it our own, but unconsciously let it rule our lives. And when it’s time for these unconsciously appropriated beliefs to shift, along comes those dark nights.

It’s time to examine our motives and the foundation of our values, ideas, and belief systems. These drive our actions and determine what’s still serving us.

That’s what being an adult means. We take responsibility for our lives and the choices we make. We are not under the control of unexamined beliefs and values anymore. We may decide to return to those, but we will do so consciously. Our psyche refuses to stay an adolescent.

Linking soul with genuineness and one’s true nature

I defined soul in my last blog from a Jungian perspective. What follows are from major world religions. Keep in mind these are basic definitions—and subject to controversy by various schools of thought and accredited meaning inherent in each spiritual tradition.

• Hindu: Ātman is a Sanskrit word that means inner self or soul. In Hindu philosophy Ātman is the first principle, the true or real self or essence of an individual (Wikipedia).

Buddhism subscribes to an Anatta doctrine, translated variously: No-soul, No-self, egolessness, and soullessness. The Buddha regarded soul-speculation as useless and illusory (Wikipedia).

Judaism: From the Hebrew scriptures, Genesis 2:7: God did not make a body and put soul into it, like putting shoes in a box, but God formed the body from dust and then by breathing divine life into it (nepesh, or breath), the body of dust became alive, it became a living being. Nepesh refers to the principle of life in any living organism, just like any other living creature. A tree does tree things; an elephant does elephant things. A doctrine of an immortal soul in Judaism developed later through the interaction of the Greek philosophies of the separation of soul and body (1).

•The Christian scriptures use the Greek word (psūchê), or psyche, for soul, translating the Hebrew word nepesh for the Greek. It kept the original meaning, however, of nepesh, or breath, or of a living, breathing, conscious being, which initially did not have an intent of an immortal soul. Later, the Biblical Patristic writers would adopt the Greek interpretation for soul as a separate, immortal entity (2).

Islam uses the Arabic word which includes several definitions, one of which is a person’s essential, immortal self (Wikipedia).

And it’s not necessarily either/or

Clinical depression is the layman’s term for Major Depressive Disorder (MDD), its symptoms laid out in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (see Note 3, with the symptoms included at the end of this blog under Depression DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria). An MDD diagnosis for a mental health professional centers around determining for how long, and to what degree, these symptoms persist in an individual’s life and whether or not he/she still finds joy in everyday life. Can the sufferer still enjoy a good book? A good movie? A night out on the town with friends? Hiking in the woods? How is the individual functioning in life’s daily routine?

And it’s not either/or—we’re not limited to a dark night OR a MDD—but it’s often and/but. Sometimes life throws many stressors at us at one time—death of a loved one, a job change, a divorce, a cross-country move—and pharmacological interventions can help us get over the hump. These same events often then act as dark nights when they strike “you at the core of your existence. It’s not just a feeling, but a rupture at the core of your very being, and it may take a long while to get to the other end of it” (4).

Sadness or depression?

Sadness intertwines itself with depression. How to discern what’s going on? Sadness is a normal emotion, usually triggered by external life events, such as the passing of a pet, the moving away of a friend, or loss of a job. But one can still find pleasures and joy in everyday life. And with time, it will go away.

Sadness in depression, however, needs no external trigger. But it isn’t just the degree of sadness, but the combination of factors in a MDD as noted above: how long, and to what degree, these symptoms persist in an individual’s life, whether or not he/she still finds joy in everyday life, and is the individual able to function in life’s daily routine (see Note 5 for a link for more details on sadness).

As oceanic tectonic plate shifts wound the ocean skin with its tearing apart, dark nights of our soul do the same. Author Jean Houston writes, “The wounding becomes sacred when we are willing to release our old stories and to become the vehicles through which the new story may emerge into time.”

More on this in my next blog. Meanwhile, honor your psyche by paying attention to the energies moving in your soul. Watch for when your true essence buried within you is seeking a passage  out to the light of day!

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Notes & Sources:

  1. 1. Atkinson, David. The Message of Genesis 1-11. Inter-Varsity Press. 1990. Pages 55-59.
  2. 2. Vine, W.E. An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Volume IX, page 55. Fleming H. Revell Company. 1966.
  3. 3. American Psychiatric Association. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) is the 2013 update to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, the taxonomic and diagnostic tool published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA). See also: https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/
  4. 4. The best resource I have found on determining if it’s a dark night of the soul or a clinical depression requiring the attention of a mental health professional is Thomas Moore’s book, Dark Nights of the Soul, A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. Penguin Random House. 2004.
  5. 5. https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/

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Depression DSM-5 Diagnostic Criteria: The DSM-5 outlines the following criterion to make a diagnosis of depression. The individual must be experiencing five or more symptoms during the same 2-week period and at least one of the symptoms should be either (1) depressed mood or (2) loss of interest or pleasure.

a. Depressed mood most of the day, nearly every day.

b. Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in all, or almost all, activities most of the day, nearly every day.

c. Significant weight loss when not dieting or weight gain, or decrease or increase in appetite nearly every day.

d. A slowing down of thought and a reduction of physical movement (observable by others, not merely subjective feelings of restlessness or being slowed down).

e. Fatigue or loss of energy nearly every day.

f. Feelings of worthlessness or excessive or inappropriate guilt nearly every day.

g. Diminished ability to think or concentrate, or indecisiveness, nearly every day.

h. Recurrent thoughts of death, recurrent suicidal ideation without a specific plan, or a suicide attempt or a specific plan for committing suicide.

To receive a diagnosis of depression, these symptoms must cause the individual clinically significant distress or impairment in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning. The symptoms must also not be a result of substance abuse or another medical condition. For more details, see https://www.psycom.net/depression-definition-dsm-5-diagnostic-criteria/

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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.

Feeling Out of Control? – How to Manage the Aftermath of Trauma ll By Brenda Bomgardner

Feeling Out of Control? – How to Manage the Aftermath of Trauma
By Brenda Bomgardner

The last few weeks or months haven’t been easy. Mass shootings around the world, in our own back yard. It’s traumatic. Current events may trigger past trauma experiences for you.

Ever since you experienced the trauma, it’s been hard to sleep at night. Then, when you have conversations with other people, you may have started to notice that even little things just set you off.

Feeling angry and moody all the time, you may be afraid that you are losing control of yourself.

Are you going crazy?

No, not at all. Your mind is still processing and coping with what you experienced. Which, unfortunately, takes time.

Yet, there is still hope. Consider then these ideas for how to manage the aftermath of trauma.

1. Understand That What You Experienced was Traumatic

For some, it may seem easy to brush off the experience and move on. It doesn’t matter what it was—a car accident, the death of a loved one, or some other incident altogether.

In some cases, like those who work in emergency medical services or the military, seeing and experiencing trauma is part of the job. However, just because it’s “typical” doesn’t mean you should brush it off either.

One of the first steps for managing the aftermath of trauma is simply to acknowledge that what you went through was traumatic. If you sweep everything under the rug, you are only setting yourself up for more problems later on.

2. Talk About What You Experienced

This is something that you’ve probably heard a lot. Yes, talking about and processing your trauma may sound like a broken record.

Yet, processing is critical for managing the aftermath of trauma. Bottling things up doesn’t work in the long-run. That’s because eventually those feelings, emotions, and thoughts will come out at some point in your life.

When that happens, it likely won’t be at a time or place of your choosing. By talking about your trauma you are able to control how those feelings and emotions are released.

Look for groups involving people who have undergone similar experiences—friends, colleagues, or support groups. Being with others like you can help break the ice, allowing you to feel safer in talking about what happened.

3. Be Aware of Dark Thoughts

Oftentimes, if you experience a trauma, it can lead to some very negative thinking.

For example:

• Low feelings of self-worth

• Questions about why you survived when others didn’t

• Feeling like your life has no meaning

It’s typical to have these kinds of thoughts after a trauma. However, understand that they may feel incredibly strong, causing you to take actions that you could regret later on.

If you feel that your personal safety is in jeopardy, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

4. Practice Radical Self-Forgiveness

What makes self-forgiveness radical? Thoughts of depression or even suicide require radical action. Be willing to forgive yourself about what happened.

It’s not uncommon for people who experience trauma to believe that it was their fault. Most of the time, you were just at the wrong place at the wrong time.

It’s human nature to try to rationalize events or actions that seem irrational. Yet, that’s not always possible.

The best that you can do is to accept what happened and to let go of any attachments.

For example, many say “if only I had done things differently.” The reality is that kind of second-guessing only causes more unnecessary emotional pain.

5. Take Care of Yourself

After experiencing trauma, many are tempted to “get back in the game,” so to speak. They are eager to return to work or continue their lives. That’s because they want to return to a sense of normalcy.

Remember, it takes time to heal from trauma and it’s important to take care of yourself.

For example:

• Allow yourself time to process and absorb what happened.

• Create space to grieve your loss.

• Do things that bring you joy and are positive.

• Get re-centered so you can move forward.

If you have the option to take time after experiencing a trauma, do so. Even it’s only a few weeks, the time you take to work through what happened is well worth it.

Trauma can definitely have a negative effect on your mental health. If you are struggling with managing the aftermath of trauma, try the above suggestions.

However, if you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to get professional help from a therapist who understands trauma therapy. Please, contact me today to learn more about how I can help you.


To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page,  https://brendabomgardner.com/brenda-bomgardner/

However, if you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to get professional help from a therapist who understands trauma therapy. Please, contact me today to learn more about how I can help you.

How Well are You? ll By Rich Brodt

How Well are You?
By Rich Brodt

When most of us think of self-care, we are generally thinking of our physical and mental health as it relates to our career. This is a good start, but I do not think it captures the full picture. Often, when I work with an individual experiencing depression, the trouble extends past the basic physical and mental health into other aspects of their lives.

This is why I often turn to the 7 Dimensions of Wellness to highlight areas of an individual’s life that could use more attention.

These dimensions are also quite useful when thinking about addressing self-care in areas that extend beyond the general physical and mental health. Checking in on each dimension helps to highlight problem areas that could use some attention.

The 7 Dimensions of Wellness are social, emotional, spiritual, environmental, occupational, intellectual and physical. These areas often overlap with one another. Together they form a pretty complete picture of the areas of our lives that are most important to focus on. Lets take a closer look at each dimension

The social dimension refers to how we are interacting with others and finding connection.

It is important to focus on whether or not we are establishing and maintaining healthy relationships with the important people in our lives. Are we able to connect and share of ourselves? If not, we should look at why this is happening, and what we might be doing to stop ourselves from connecting. This area is especially important for healers trying to take care of themselves. Private practice can be isolating. That, coupled with the social exhaustion one might feel after days in a row of multiple back to back sessions each week, can lead to social withdrawal due to fatigue. Without connection and feedback from others we lose a sense of our selves.

The emotional dimension refers to how we are experiencing and processing our own emotions.

One aspect of this is how we deal with and overcome challenges. The ability to feel and express our emotions in a healthy way leads to higher productivity and improved self-concept. If we cannot identify and express what we are feeling, it tends to cause difficulty understanding the emotions of others, which is unacceptable for a healing professional.

The spiritual dimension relates to how we see and interact with the world.

Often, the word spiritualleads people to think of religion. However, the concept can be conceptualized much more broadly. Spirituality is about a connection to oneself and an understanding of ones place in the world. Spirituality focuses on the experience of being human, rather than material or physical possessions. It brings peace and humility to our lives, and can be practiced in any number of ways. Getting in touch with this spirituality allows us to identify and live in accordance with our values.

The environmental dimension, while important, is often overlooked.

This dimension speaks to our awareness of the fragility of the earth, and the way we choose to interact with it. Are we making choices that harm our environment? Are we taking time to be thankful to what is provided to us by our environment? Are we having a positive impact?

Occupational wellness, is an interesting topic for a therapist or healer.

Most of us are self-employed, and so we have a great deal of choice in our daily schedule. But are we happy with what were doing and how were doing it? For the self-employed, this might mean focusing on what hours you work, or what populations you work with. It might be that youre feeling burnt out and need a break. We need to listen to the messages we are getting about our work, and use those messages to find greater fulfillment in what we are doing.

Intellectual wellness, while often related to occupational wellness, is important in and of itself.

The focus in this dimension is on whether we are able to open our minds to new ideas and concepts, think critically and improve our skills. This dimension asks whether we are open to challenging our self intellectually, and whether we are willing to digest new information that might change how we feel about a certain topic.

Physical wellness is a dimension where most of us are already aware of the implications.

This dimension refers to our physical health, and our ability to endure through our daily activities without having physical issues. This dimension stresses the importance of routine physical check ups, exercise and avoiding habits that might be detrimental to our physical wellness. I will not spend too much time here since physical wellness seems to be at the top of most self care lists.

These seven dimensions give a solid overview of the idea of wellness as it relates to taking care of oneself. Whenever we feel low, there is a good chance that we are ignoring one or more of these categories. If you ever want to assess where your self-care routine might be improved, running through these dimensions is a good place to start. That said, it is often also a good place to start with clients who are experiencing depression or anxiety, as self-care is the first thing we tend to neglect when things arent going our way.


Rich Brodt is a former Affordable Counseling Program intern and currently works as a Core Practitioner at People House. Rich provides therapy and counseling for individuals. His style integrates various techniques, but he tailors his approach to each client’s unique needs. He is committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. “Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.”

2727 Bryant St Suite 430 Denver CO 80203 and People House Denver

Dreams as Everyday Spirituality ll By Erin Amundson

Dreams as Everyday Spirituality
By Erin Amundson

 

Many of us have heard the phrase I am a spiritual being having a human experience. If you’ve heard it, you might think that it’s a pretty profound statement.  It’s smart, it’s catchy, and it resonates.  Something about turning our perspective around to consider that we are much more than human helps to soothe some of the discomforts life brings.  I’m all for that. That’s why I practice and write about everyday spirituality. I know that the more I connect with the spiritual aspect of my existence, the easier it is to navigate my life with joy and playfulness.

In reflection, I began to wonder why we need to remind ourselves that we are spiritual beings having human experiences.

If it’s true that we are spiritual beings, wouldn’t it be easier to just be spiritual?

I would think so, but the truth is that most of us get caught up in worry – about our bills, our children, our career path, our politics, our relationships and our bodies.  All of this worry creates a spiritual crisis, and then we face a forced reminder that we need to connect as a spiritual being.

I don’t know about you, but I’m interested in an easier way.  That’s why I created a personal and professional practice centered in daily spirituality.   There are many ways to do this. How you do it isn’t as important as just doing it. I like to do things that are easy, fun, and natural to me.  

I have found that the most natural, easy and fun way to maintain a daily connection to spirituality is through dream work.    

We all dream daily, whether we are aware we are doing it or not.  Many of us invest a lot of money and time in self-help books, retreats, yoga, meditation, therapy, coaching, and endless other opportunities to keep us aligned on our spiritual path.  

These are all important in my world, but I wonder why we miss one of the more obvious and simple ways to stay connected – our own subconscious link to the soul through dreams.  I like to call this our Natural Technology. And once you know how to speak the language of dreams, it costs nothing but a few minutes of your time daily or weekly.

The two most common questions I get about dreaming are Why is it Important? and How do I do it?  Let’s start with the first.  Dreams have been a part of most indigenous culture’s spiritual practice since the beginning of time.  See this link for a great example. Tribes gathered at the morning fire to discuss the visions of the night before and make adjustments to their living to follow what the dreams told them.  Often, this was the practice that saved their lives.

In more recent times, the greats such as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg credit their dreams for their greatest contributions to the world.  

In short, dreams offer us warnings, healing, and alignment as well as a connection to our own brilliance in the world.  

But first we have to understand the language.  I teach this for a living both in my private practice and through my free events, weekend retreats and writing.  

Here are some ideas for getting started.  First, to remember dreams, it’s important to have a practice of recording your dreams every morning, when you first wake up.  I suggest writing them in a journal or recording them on your phone to listen to later. It usually takes about 5 minutes to record anything you remember.  Even snippets of dreams can hold powerful material. If you are having trouble recalling your dreams, you can create a bedtime ritual of asking to remember your dreams by writing, lighting a candle you identify as a dream candle, or any other ritual that suits you.  

Once you have material to work with, I suggest starting by making associations to your dream symbols.  If you dream about a crow, write that word down in your journal, quiet your mind with several deep breaths or a meditation, and jot down whatever comes into your awareness when you think about a crow. Then ask yourself what aspect of your life resonates with these association words.

If death comes to mind, think about an area of your life you are ready to put to rest.  

In addition to this, you can ask the dream symbol to speak to you in a meditative state and see what message it has.  Most of us think of a crow as a representation of death, but I’ve seen it mean different things to different dreamers including strength to face an illness, the burden of an addiction and an indication that it is time to make a career change.  

When you begin to engage dreams, your subconscious responds by providing you with more material and usually begins to offer more direct guidance.  When you record your dreams, you might identify patterns that symbolize an important message from spirit, such as a dream that someone else is driving your car – and that you need to develop or initiate taking the wheel in some aspect of your life.

Personally, my dreams have warned me away from abusive people in my life, guided me to a career that uses my core talents and fulfills me, helped me to co-create aspects of life I want to manifest and healed a childhood trauma for me.  If I were to calculate the costs in therapy, self-help, life-coaching and workshops, I’m sure I would’ve spent thousands of dollars.  I only wish someone had taught me this language at an earlier age.


Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

The Power of Dreaming: Taming the Beasts ll By Dorothy Wallis

The Power of Dreaming: Taming the Beasts
By Dorothy Wallis

 

“A lamb, really, a lamb, that’s my ego?”  This thought washes over me as the image of a fluffy lamb appears beneath my closed eyes when the dream instructor asks,

“What is the image of your ego?”  

Annoyed, I proceed with her next directive, which is to talk to my ego and tell it something. Inwardly, I exclaim, “Would you be more strong and assertive?”  Immediately, the now spunky lamb jumps in the air, clicks its black hooves together and lands firmly with a determined look. I cannot help but laugh and my heart softens, “Yes, you are stronger than you appear.”  As other dream participants talk about their wild monstrous ego images, I feel grateful that I do not have to work at taming my lamb.

Throughout the three days with Catherine Shainberg, I work with the truth of images and how they depict our reality.  Dreaming is not just in the night, but a continual process. Instead of merely being a passive observer of the events and images in our life, she teaches us how to fully participate and respond to both the night dreams and the daydream.  

The first concept to embrace is the truth held in the images our body/mind/spirit creates.

Even if we do not like, agree, or understand an image, it is absolutely reflecting the truth about our perceptions, filters, and our true being. I see it as the soul speaking.  This language has pinpoint accuracy and as I work with the images, I begin to have a deep appreciation for how an image can incorporate thought and feeling into such a tidy and precise modality of communication.

“Dreaming is a way of triggering consciousness or holding a center so that consciousness can have power,” she explains.  The stories or mythology created out of the dream describes how each person inhabiting a body understands the great mystery.  The Kabbalistic lineage teaches that dreaming is a whispering and the secret is in how you blow. Kabbalah is a blowing wind through the text or form; it means to receive from the inside.  

One becomes the flute and God blows the flute.

Through experiential exercises using all of our senses, we touch the subconscious from a relaxed fully present and awake awareness. This way of working with imaging is a process of becoming more alive to the true reality in the world and a detachment from complete absorption in the illusion of the world.  The power comes from interacting and responding to the images instead of treating them as if in a movie or being at the mercy of them. Life is lived as a co-creation, mythopoesis, shaping experience through myth and vision, rather than as fate.

Two to three minute imaging exercises, one after the other, train our mind and body to respond quickly.  On the last day each exercise takes only a minute and is followed by another in rapid succession. Truth is found in the first impression of the image and in the experience of the senses and feelings that arise.  Images instantly appear out of the dark and my first response is wonder and questioning, “Why this image?” My second response is to morph it into something else. I learn to be with the image and take it in before morphing or responding to it.  Catherine says the Talmud speaks of the four Rabbis. The first Rabbi ‘sees’ and dies of shock, not living the dream fully. The second Rabbi ‘sees’ and goes mad. The third Rabbi ‘sees’ and says, “Is that all?” The fourth Rabbi ‘sees’ and comes back into the world transformed.  I learn to be with the image I receive instead of pushing it aside. I learn to respond to it. Entering the dream world is the hero or heroine and I am that heroine. Transforming the images teaches one how to deal with life’s challenges. Dreaming offers a way of practicing and honing the skill of creating reality.  It also transforms our pattern of seeing and responding.

The challenge is real and as I enter the night dreams they now take on a different flavor.  In one, I enter a furniture store looking for a dining table and chairs. Squishy, swivel chairs with kaleidoscopic colored leather seats and backs surrounding a dark wood rectangular table appear.  Delighted by the chairs, my attention is now drawn to the table. It seems rather short and squatty. “Maybe I want a round table instead. No, rectangular is fine, I surmise, it just needs to be longer and taller.”  Instantly, the table grows in dimension. That was easy. In another, I am walking alone in a pitch-black night beside an endless highway. A car comes from behind and slows. My antenna goes up and warns me that it may not be safe for a lone female walking at night in the middle of nowhere.  I begin running and just as soon as I do my feet rotate at lightning quicksilver speed propelling me far ahead of the car. My eyes are alert and watching both sides for signs of people, lights, or buildings. On my right, lights and buildings appear yet there is a tall barrier between it and the road.  “I must find an opening,” no sooner thought than a dip in the barricade materializes and I bound over the low wall down an embankment. I mingle with people in the bright lights of the town. Still concerned that the car has followed me, I merge into a tall shrub. I am completely invisible now to passers-by.  This transformation lesson must be complete because the next moment, I walk out of the shrub into the light and wake up.

The challenges increase with practice until transforming becomes second nature.  This skill is brought into the waking state as courage and an ability to see a situation more creatively and from an expanded state of heightened possibility with choice.  Choice is a key word.

Night dreams offer endless choice and possibility and this knowing translates into the dream of life during the day.

Reversing the day unwinds the burden of the day and opens a passageway to the night dream of choice.  If I can handle a situation in the night dream, I am even more powerful in the day. The dream is the reality of how I actually feel. Recalling each moment of my day seems a prodigious task. “How will I remember a whole day?” Surprisingly, the scenes of the day do unfold like petals falling from a spiral core of a faded rose.  One after the other the previous moment comes forth effortlessly until slumber enfolds me and I am in dreamland. If in the accounting of the day there arises a moment that weighs upon me, hurts me, disturbs, or unsettles my mind or emotions, I have the choice to re-image, re-frame, or re-experience the situation by responding to it.  I do it in the same way I respond to the night dream. It is a form of therapy on oneself and with skill and practice trauma can be removed before it festers.

Sabrina recounts her dream from the previous night.  The whole group asks her to describe nuances, feelings, and details of her dream, which helps the dreamer clarify and pay more attention to it, encouraging a way into the heart via the use of poetic language.  A sensuous richly evocative, vivid description brings the life of the dream into the room and into each one’s experience. Dreams often contain residue from recent events in our life and carry less weight or meaning so we go through a process of verification to set those bits aside.  Patterns are noticed and then each one becomes a secondary dreamer re-telling the dream from their own imaging, sensing and knowing. The dream entity assimilates layers of images and sensations revealing the wisdom that this dream is a world dream created by all of us.

In truth, we dreamed it together.  

The knowing that life is a dream and we are dreaming the new dream each and every moment is indelibly impressed upon our consciousness and with it taking responsibility for our creations means sincerely undertaking the ability to respond.

With our eyes closed Catherine pummels us with scenarios and asks us questions.  “Play your whole life in front of you and see your life as a victim, now do the same and see your life as a drama, now see your life as a comedy.  Which do you prefer?” “See the heroic stance you took as a young child to protect yourself in your dysfunctional family. See how your stance doesn’t serve you anymore.”  “See your mother’s face in a mirror; it is the first face you see. Change what you dislike.” These simple rapid-fire intentions send waves of knowing and change throughout my cells.

I soak up the way she works with individuals in the group going through resistance, how she surgically enters their images and cuts out, brings in light, and guides them into an altered experience.  It is amazing the speed in which people are able to move through their resistance this way. Clearing out fractious emotions is done in a Gestalt way by feeling it, finding where it resides in the body, and vocalizing it.  Once honored, the question is asked, “How do I want to feel?” The remembrance of choice is prompted and then a response of choosing a feeling is initiated with sensation and imaging.

Taming the beasts of emotions requires us to clean the hurts of childhood and society.  

By changing dissonant past images and feelings the attitude and triggering to the past is transformed. Each time a challenge is faced and met through the exquisite creativity of story and image, healing occurs and light enters.

Wearing silvery armor, I enter a dark cave and meet the dragon of anger, the bull of resentment, the crocodile of fear, and the sadness of Eeyore.  I lasso them in a golden net and climb a ladder. As I climb the rungs, the emotional demons all turn pink, then turn into doves, and finally disappear.  I leap off the ladder into the sky, turn into pure light and expand out into the universe of pure love. Ahh freedom…


 

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 1 By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dark Nights of the Soul: Spiritual Transformation or Clinical Depression? Part 1
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

 

Just as a 30-foot tall tsunami forever alters a coastal environment, a dark night of the soul leaves your inner landscape forever rearranged.

The phrase “dark night of the soul” comes from the 16th century Spanish mystic and poet John of the Cross. A member of the Christian religious order of Carmelites, he was imprisoned by his order for eight months for trying to reform the order. During his imprisonment he wrote poems, and after his release he wrote commentary on these poems, one of them entitled Dark Night of the Soul.

“What is my ‘soul’ anyway?”

“The church says ‘save your soul!’ but it never says what a soul IS,” I continued in frustration to my partner at a non-sectarian retreat center in Hua Hin, Thailand, almost 25 years ago. The church I was attending at the time didn’t encourage questions—especially from women. I was pushing against the patriarchal boundaries of entitlement, command, and control: the male leaders determined not only the acceptable questions, but also the answers.

Jungian analyst Clarissa Pinkola Estés believes otherwise, as she expounds on the classic Bluebeard fairy tale in her book Women Who Run with the Wolves, preferring the old French and Slavic versions (1).

Bluebeard is a gruesome brute who has married seven women, telling each they have the full run of the castle, but warning them not to look behind a specified locked door. The current wife asks herself, what is he hiding? She’s been given the keys to all the doors, and goaded by her visiting sisters, opens the forbidden door. To her horror, inside the room lie the bloody corpses of his previous wives. She realizes she’s next and knows she must escape.

Spoiler alert: in this version, she does.

Traditional patriarchal interpretations say the moral of this story—particularly aimed at women—is that a young maiden’s curiosity often leads to deep remorse. Huh? What’s up with that? We wise women ask.

Pinkola Estés, on the other hand, says that asking the right question opens the door to consciousness, that questions are the keys that cause the secret doors of the psyche to swing open. Curiosity leads us to ask, “What stands behind?”

My question: “What IS my soul anyway?” began the slow creaking open of the door to my psyche.

Linking soul with genuineness and one’s true nature

While Jung defines psyche as the totality of all psychological processes, both conscious and unconscious, soul is a nuanced word, a symbol from which meaning grows. Most of us have an intuitive feeling for what our soul is; the words that follow are written by Jungian analysts. Pay attention to what pings in your innermost being.

• Pinkola Estés says that “In fairy tales [and] in ancient hermeneutics, the spirit is being born of the soul. The spirit inherits or incarnates into matter in order to gather news of the ways of the world and carries these back to the soul. When not interfered with, the relationship between soul and spirit is one of perfect symmetry; each enriches the other in turn” (1).

• James Hillman writes extensively about the soul, concluding that “The soul is a deliberately ambiguous concept, resisting all definition, in the same manner as do all ultimate symbols which provide the root metaphors for the systems of human thought” (2).

• Psychotherapist and former monk Thomas Moore says, “It is impossible to define precisely what the soul is. Definition is an intellectual enterprise anyway: the soul prefers to imagine. We know intuitively that soul has to do with genuineness and depth, as when we say certain music has soul or a remarkable person is soulful. When you look closely at the image of soulfulness, you see that it is tied to life in all its particulars—good food, satisfying conversation, genuine friends, and experiences that stay in the memory and touch the heart. Soul is revealed in attachment, love, and community, as well as in retreat on behalf of inner communing and intimacy” (3). While a definition may be impossible for Moore, he does link soul with genuineness and one’s true nature.

• And one more by Evangelos Christou: “[T]he soul is not as transcendental, nor as biological, as either metaphysics or science would have us believe. On the one hand it is about life, about how people think, feel, behave, their problems and their ways, not about the organs and functions with which they do this. On the other hand, it is also about spirit and the meaning of life to people and the meanings are not exhausted by a history of ideas” (4).

Moore says “A true dark night of the soul is not a surface challenge but a development that takes you away from the joy of your ordinary life. An external event or an internal mood strikes you at the core of your existence. It’s not just a feeling, but a rupture at the core of your very being, and it may take a long while to get to the other end of it” (5).

In other words, it’s not coming home at the end of the day and telling your partner, “I had a dark night of the soul today. Someone took my parking place, I dropped my phone in the loo, and my hair looks awful.” These are surface challenges.

Dark nights of the soul are the pressures building up in the ocean floor of our psyches, shifting those tectonic plates of our worldview we believed were solid. The duct tape holding them together is about to become unglued—the tsunami waits in the shadows.

In my next blog I’ll look closer at a dark night’s comparison to a clinical depression, some of the whys of a dark night, and what can emerge from it. Meanwhile, listen to and feel your soul!

___________

Notes & Sources:

1.Pinkola Estés, Clarissa. Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stores of the Wild Woman Archetype, Ballentine Books. 1992.

2.Hillman, James. Suicide and the Soul. Spring Publications. 1994, 1998.

3.Moore, Thomas. Care of the Soul. 1992.

4.Christou, Evangelos. The Logos of the Soul. Spring Publications, 2007.

5.The best resource I have found on determining if it’s a dark night of the soul or a clinical depression requiring the attention of a mental health professional is Thomas Moore’s book, Dark Nights of the Soul, A Guide to Finding Your Way Through Life’s Ordeals. Penguin Random House. 2004.

__________

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.

5 Keys on How to Manage Painful Thoughts or Memories ll By Brenda Bomgardner

5 Keys on How to Manage Painful Thoughts or Memories
Brenda Bomgardner

If you’re like many people dealing with painful thoughts or memories, you may try to go about your daily routine but they keep butting in.

The haunting thoughts frequently make it hard to concentrate on your work or to even enjoy a relaxing night at home with the family.

Some people try to wish them away, hoping to forget about the pain once and for all. Of course, many people find this temporary reprieve through drugs, alcohol, or other negative ways.

However, utilizing mindfulness skills can help with managing these thoughts and memories, and to resolve your pain better than any vice.

Consider these five important key points.

1. Accept That You Have These Thoughts or Memories

The first step in a mindfulness practice towards managing painful thoughts or memories is to accept that they are there.

You can’t run away from them, nor can you dull them with substances or usher them away using distractions. As you may have already realized, they find their way back.

Yet, accepting that these thoughts and memories exist can help to resolve the pain associated with them.

Furthermore, with acceptance comes openness and peace. You are no longer expending the mental energy to fight back those thoughts.

Granted, acceptance does require courage—the courage to accept that they exist and are not suddenly going to conveniently vanish.

2. Be Willing to Face Your Memories

Once you have accepted that your thoughts or memories exist, be willing to face them. Much like the first step, this also requires some degree of courage. Still, it’s not as impossible as it may have seemed in the past.

Keep in mind that facing every negative thought or memory all at once could be a bit overwhelming. It helps to start small and tackle them in stride.

For example, focus on one memory for starters. Remember, facing your memories does not mean fighting them. Rather, it’s a process of coming to terms with these thoughts and resolving your pain.

3. Let Go of Attachment

Next, begin the process of letting go of your attachment to those memories.

Attachment implies that you find some importance or connectedness to the thought or memory. This is true even if they are painful and cause you a lot of emotional pain.

By detaching, you are separating yourself from the memory. This allows you to look at the thought or memory more objectively. Then, you can let it go and allow it to drift away.

One example of doing this is the “Leaves on the Stream” exercise. Quite simply, you imagine a stream with leaves. Each leaf represents a memory. You can observe the stream carrying those memories away down the stream.

5. Forgive Yourself

Often, when you hold onto painful memories or thoughts it’s because of feelings associated with guilt or shame. As a result, reliving the memory acts as a form of self-punishment.

For example, someone who experienced trauma related to war may “torture” themselves by asking “why did I survive?” They feel guilty that they lived but their comrades did not.

A key to managing painful thoughts and memories includes the decision to forgive yourself for what happened.

Tormenting yourself won’t change things or alter the past. However, forgiveness does let you move forward and embrace the life you have now.

Everyone has memories or thoughts that they’d rather forget. Yet, for some, these thoughts and memories cause so much mental anguish that it’s debilitating.

If this is you, consider trying these five keys to managing painful thoughts or memories.

However, if you are still struggling, recruit the support of a friend, a trusted family member, clergy, or other trained professional.


To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page,   https://brendabomgardner.com/brenda-bomgardner/

However, if you’re still having trouble, don’t hesitate to get professional help from a therapist who understands trauma therapy. Please, contact me today to learn more about how I can help you.

The Importance of Taking Care Pt. 2 ll By Rich Brodt

The Importance of Taking Care Pt. 2
By Rich Brodt

 

In my last post, I focused somewhat disproportionately on the external financial pressures that many of us feel as business owners, and how those pressures can lead to poor self-care. There is another side to this coin.

As healing professionals, our product is us.

It is the space we make for our clients, it is our background, our experience and our genuine self that the client is paying for. It is important that, as much as possible, this is what we deliver.

When life is difficult, when stress is really running high, the easiest thing for any of us to do is withdraw. Withdraw from our friends, family, our feelings, and most of all our selves. When we are having a hard time, the tendency is to hide that from those around us. It feels vulnerable.

But spending time with the people in our lives who support us is one of the most important ways we take care of ourselves.

When we spend time with those who we love and respect and receive mutual love and respect in return it validates who we are. We should not always need this type of validation, but it is important that we have people in our lives who make us feel good about who we are – who fully accept us. When people reflect our positive qualities we become more at ease with who we are and more able to make space for others. This can be difficult for those who have not built a strong support network, but within our community there are always opportunities for group supervisions, workshops and classes. These are all great ways to connect with like-minded people.

That being said, connecting in the ways mentioned above is not for everyone. There is not a single right way to take care of yourself. Different things work for different people, though there are certainly some favorites. Cardiovascular exercise such as biking or running works for many people, as does hiking or swimming. Generally, anything that gets you moving and leads to improved overall health is a good start. Meditation, yoga and other mindfulness-based practices seem to help quite a bit as well.

However, self-care takes on many different formats, and I do not think it should be so narrowly focused.

When trying to choose a hobby or activity, I often ask people to think back to a time where they completed something that was not related to their career and felt a sense of satisfaction upon that completion. Was it a horrible portrait you painted of your dog? A 14er you summited? A computer you built from scratch? A haiku you scribbled in a bathroom stall? The point is that it does not matter what it is. There is no right way to live and there is no right way to care for yourself. But we all need to seek some sort of joy outside of what we do for a living.

What brings you joy?

We can only identify with our careers so much. When this gets out of balance we lose a sense of our self. Seeking outside activities or hobbies that help to bring us a sense of meaning go a long way toward rebuilding the self and regaining a sense of balance.


About the Author

I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

2727 Bryant St Suite 430 Denver CO 80203 and People House Denver

720.295.1352 or RichardBrodt@Elevatedcounseling.org; http://elevatedcounseling.org

The Power of Contrast ll by Erin Amundson

The Power of Contrast
By Erin Amundson

   As I was leading an online dream group this past fall, something fascinating happened.  Just as we were entering the part of the group where everyone is on the brink of a wonderful, desired transformation, every single member of the group came up against resistance.  In fact, for the first time in the three years I’ve been facilitating dream groups, almost every member of the group canceled for our next session.

   I’ve seen this before.  Often in my one on one work with people. 

Just as we are getting to what I call the good stuff, clients cancel.

   Given my extensive history with my own resistance, I tend to be understanding and usually do my best to invite them back where we can chat about what came up. Every time, without fail, I see that those who do come back find that the experience of transformation brings them exactly what they want and need. 

I’m not saying it’s easy – in fact, many times it can feel emotionally excruciating.

   However, I believe there’s a way to make it less difficult by working with contrast or the tension of opposites.  Let me walk you through it. 

   The tension of opposites is often what clients feel just before a big breakthrough.  There is usually strong desire for growth or freedom and often equally strong feelings of resistance that create avoidance.  The result of this for most people is either backing away from the growth, which means staying wounded or limited, OR pushing through the resistance to the next level, regardless of the impact.  In my work with the dream group recently, I’ve come to consciously understand a strategy I’ve used for years with clients one on one.  This strategy is to shift our focus from the tension we feel to the power that contrast can bring us. 

   There are many examples of this in psychotherapy.  A client with a difficult childhood may both love and hate a parent who was inconsistent or abusive.  Clients often feel both fear and excitement in the venture of a desire, such as a new relationship or a career promotion. 

In dreamwork, our subconscious images feed us both nightmares and “good” dreams. 

   In all of these examples, I’ve found that the ability to hold both emotions with reverence and respect offers a pathway to our whole selves that we cannot otherwise connect to. 

   This means that the client who invites both the love and the hatred of the parent into her experience engages a new balance in the relationship to the parent (and probably better boundaries, too).  The person who invites the fear to speak to him before engaging the new relationship has the opportunity to understand a part of him that may need healing and will make the relationship better.  And the dreamer who engages the nightmare has the opportunity to work out a trauma or deep subconscious fear.  All of these processes bring freedom to my clients. 

   Consider this.  Imagine that you are on the brink of a new level of self-expression (as many of you truly are!).  It is going to be a natural part of your experience to fear this on some level, because you are heading into uncharted territory. 

As humans, we fear what we don’t know or can’t predict. 

   Now, I assume that what you want in this situation is the courage to plunge forward into this new and improved you.  Faced with this dilemma, it is human nature to do one of two things: DENY that you have fear and suppress it moving forward regardless, or DENY your new level of self-expression through some form of sabotage in order to stay SAFE. 

   While I preferred the first of these two responses for much of my own life, I’ve discovered that neither response provides most of us a grounded, nourishing, supportive way of experiencing growth in life.  If you deny your fear, a key part of your human existence is left behind, and left unhealed.  Typically, this fear (which is totally VALID) is expressed later on in unhealthy ways. 

   The answer, I have found, starts with telling the truth.  First, to yourself.  The truth about how we feel is not openly encouraged in this culture.  For a lot of people, it’s really hard to admit that their parents caused them pain.  It’s also hard to admit sometimes that you want more out of life.  We’ve just begun to really talk about fear and vulnerability in the last few years.  How many times have you responded with “I’m feeling really insecure” when someone asks how you are?  It’s rare. 

   I’m not saying that we should all suddenly start expressing ourselves freely.  Sometimes it’s not safe to do so.  Other times, we only think it’s not safe.  Therapy is a wonderful place to work this out.  The key is a feeling of safety in expressing and embracing our “less desired” emotions.  When you do, you’ll find the power of contrast in your own life.  

 


   

   Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

   After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

   Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Spirituality in Daily Life: Choosing Nonviolent Activism ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Spirituality in Daily Life: Choosing Nonviolent Activism ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

From a jail cell in Birmingham, Alabama, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.”

He penned this on April 16, 1963, and would be assassinated five years later, on April 4, 1968.

Last week we honored his birth. His largeness overwhelms me—not his size, but his activism against injustices. And there are others: Mahatma Ghandi; Mother Teresa; Nelson Mandela; Gloria Steinem; Cesar Chavez; Rachel Carson and Steve Biko—to name only a few of the greats.

While working in Peshawar with Afghan refugees and the reconstruction efforts of their war-torn country after 10 years of fighting Soviet occupation, all my Afghan friends had plans for how I could help them rebuild their nation. The war had destroyed their nation’s infrastructure of bridges, roads, schools, and irrigation systems. My education and experience were in the architectural/engineering field and that’s where I focused my energy—an easy choice for me.

But life in the States today proffers a crush of struggles. My days in Peshawar didn’t include internet media depicting a global non-stop volley of suffering and grief.

“What can I do?” becomes our common cry. Paralysis slides in to protect us from so much angst and its accompanying stress.

We can fall back on a supportive quote attributed to Dr. King:

“If I cannot do great things, I can do small things in a great way.”

And just empathy—entering into another person’s pain—isn’t enough. It eventually extracts an emotional toll on our bodies. Compassion takes us to the next step: doing something.

We are back to spirituality in daily life. Can we—and should we—include activism as part of our spiritual path? Dr. King certainly believed so.

“Every man of humane convictions must decide on the protest that best suits his convictions, but we must all protest” (1).

All major religious traditions include acts of compassion in their practices; if we say we love, the suffering of others ought to move us to do something (2). Our souls/psyches/spirits do have the capacity to live with—and to a measure, move through grief—otherwise why do our greatest loves die and leave us physically? But we’re not made to carry as much grief as we’re bombarded with daily. I’ve become especially careful about pictures and videos imprinting themselves on my psyche through social media. I control how much grief enters my life.

How to start:

1.Choose your passion (see non-exhaustive list below). Where you will focus your attention? As I run through my never ending list of injustices that need righted, I listen to my deepest self. It becomes part of my spiritual practice, my spiritual discipline. Where shall I focus my attention, and hence my energy?

2. Know thyself—what are your strengths? Do you tend toward extroversion or introversion? Where do your gifts lie? Author Madeleine L’Engle tells the story how she was asked to make a cake for her young child’s school function. The cake flopped, and she told the teacher that while she couldn’t cook, she could write a play for the children to perform, and that’s what she did.

3. Recognize your commitments and/or limitations. Are you raising a young family and/or working full-time? A full-time student? A primary caretaker to an aging parent? Limited in physical mobility? Perhaps you can still make a few phone calls to your elected officials or write letters. As your children grow, include them as much as possible—be an example.

A partial list of injustices follows that we read about daily. Pay attention to what pings your spirit—and then write that down. If your list ends up too long, read that list also, and watch for greater movement within you for one or the other. Which sorrow marks your soul? Which one (or two) leaves a deeper and more painful impression?

It’s like going to the eye doctor: “Which one is clearer? Slide one or slide two?” “This one [pause] or this one?”

Watch for other ideas springing up from these words; these are clues, saying, “Walk this way.”

•Chemicals killing our bees.

•Pollutants in our freshwater supplies.

•Pollutants in our soil.

•Plastics and computers in the ocean.

•The dying off of insects due to chemicals.

•Our nation’s wealth inequalities.

•Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

•Women’s rights.

•Rights of children.

•LGBTQ+ rights.

•Our nation’s war machine.

•Melting polar caps.

•Corporations writing our nation’s laws, vs. elected representatives.

•Disenfranchised voters.

•Abused dogs.

•The international trade in endangered species.

•Unfettered access to weapons.

•Our nation’s lack of decent public transportation, forcing dependency on the automobile and oil and gas industry.

•Corporate greed and bullying for our nation’s natural resources, often at the expense of our nation’s natural heritage—our national, state, and county forests, parks, and reserves.

•The weakening of laws protecting our nation’s air, water, and ground supplies, thus threatening our children’s health.

•The anti-nuclear movement.

Keep in mind that just as life changes—the children grow, the aging relative passes on—so might your passions and giftings ebb and flow. Don’t let society or the status quo dictate to you what injustice you fight or what shape that battle takes. Let Dr. King be your example.

______

Notes & Sources:

1. Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., (1929-1968) Pastor, Civil Rights Activist, Morehouse College 1948. http://hbcustory.org/on-conviction-martin-luther-king-jr-morehouse-college-48/

2. Contemporary author on religion Karen Armstrong has written extensively on how compassion flows alongside the cruelties of fundamentalism which raises its head in all religions, through all the centuries. Les Miserable plays itself out continually in our societies through Victor’s Hugo’s character Inspector Javert, as we balance the God of Mercy with the God of Judgment.

3. https://charterforcompassion.org/ The mission of the Charter for Compassion: “To that end we support and work to achieve the seventeen sustainable goals of the United Nations.”

4.  https://www.thenation.com/article/fifty-most-influential-progressives-twentieth-century/


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.

How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy ll By Brenda Bomgardner

What’s It All About? – How to Understand Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

By Brenda Bomgardner

 

If you’re like many people, you may have an inner voice telling you things like you’re worthless or that no one wants you. Every day, an exhausting battle may rage inside of you.

Sometimes you try to push back against all those negative thoughts, but they come crashing through anyways.

In fact, trying to counter your negative self-talk only seems to make things worse. Spiraling down quickly, it often feels like there’s no relief in sight.

Now, imagine that there’s a way to counter the effects of negative thinking without pushing back or repressing your thoughts.

That’s what acceptance and commitment therapy is all about.

What Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy?

Unlike other coping skills—where you try to avoid negative thoughts or drown them out—acceptance and commitment therapy involves shifting your thinking to more productive outcomes.

This is accomplished by:

• Becoming more aware of your actions
• Recognizing what you consider to be your own values
• Making a commitment to act

The idea behind acceptance and commitment therapy is to face those negative thoughts in a more productive way.

It can be very difficult to drown out or counter negative thoughts, especially if they have been deeply ingrained into your thinking. However, acceptance and commitment therapy empowers you to choose what to do about thoughts.

Decide on Acceptance and Take Action

When you practice acceptance and commitment therapy, you utilize a process to make decisions independent of your negative thoughts.

For example, let’s say that you struggle with feelings of low self-worth based on negative experiences in childhood. When you think “I am worthless” you suddenly now have a choice. You can decide whether to take action right now to address this negative thought and might enter into a battle with the thoughts. You might try to counter the negative thought with a positive thought. You can spend a lot of time and energy in the battle and feel like you’re spinning your wheels and the thought keeps coming back. Here’s the deal. You can battle with your thought or you can act on creating behaviors that infuse your life with meaningfulness and fulfillment. You can act independent of your thoughts and/or feelings. You can accept a thought or feeling as a process your mind does based on your learning history and work towards making behavior changes.

Make a Commitment

Another important part of this process is making a commitment not to push back against those emotions, thoughts, or feelings.

Often, what causes people emotional distress is their attempt to push back or fight thoughts or feelings they find distressful. However, this frequently only causes them even more unnecessary pain and suffering.

When you commit to stop pushing back, and begin to be willing to accept your feelings you can begin to approach these issues from a new perspective and make changes based on what you truly value.

Why Is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Helpful?

Perhaps the biggest reason why acceptance and commitment therapy is helpful is that you are no longer trying to avoid painful thoughts or feelings.

If you have thoughts about your low self-worth, you may be tempted to “numb” those thoughts through drug or alcohol use. On the other hand, you may try to bottle those thoughts and feelings up inside. Any attempt to release them causes you loads of emotional pain.

Let’s face it, this may temporarily work for you. But avoidance doesn’t really solve the larger problem. You still carry uncomfortable and unwanted emotions around you, and eventually, it will come out one way or another. Acknowledging to yourself that you have and experience painful feelings and thoughts transform them.

How to Practice Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

To practice this technique, it’s helpful to work with a therapist who understands acceptance and commitment therapy.

While it may be hard to discuss painful memories and difficult emotions with anyone, a therapist will be able to support you through the process. They can also help you find alternatives for viewing these thoughts and emotions so that they need not be compounded by the fight against pain causing distress for you.

If negative thinking is an issue and fighting those thoughts is causing you problems, consider acceptance and commitment therapy. You’ll likely find that by finding acceptance and committing to changing your thinking based on your own personal values, you will find relief and peace of mind.


To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page

About the Author: Brenda Bomgardner is in her encore career. One of her greatest joys in her career is seeing people move beyond life’s roadblocks toward a fulfilling and meaningful life. She believes each person has a purpose in life waiting to be realized that evolves over a lifetime. And the path to reaching your life’s purpose is as unique as each individual. We all have dreams. Step by step she will walk with you on uncovering how to bring your dreams to fruition.  Brenda is a counselor, coach and clinical supervisor and specializes in practicing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) which is a cutting edge evidenced-based processes. This means there is scientific research proven to show ACT works. Before becoming a therapist, she completed a successful 17 year career in Human Resources at a Fortune 500 company. On a personal note she loves the great outdoors, ATV riding, adventure travel and family.

To learn more about Brenda visit her About Me page, https://brendabomgardner.com/brenda-bomgardner/

The Importance of Taking Care ll By Rich Brodt

The Importance of Taking Care

By Rich Brodt for People House Blogs

Folks in the helping professions tend to have pretty good awareness of the idea of self-care. However, that does not always mean we put it into practice. I regularly hear of helping professionals slipping into substance abuse, bad habits and unhealthy relationship patterns regardless of the fact that they are regularly able to help other individuals though the same issues. It is likely that they even talk about self-care with their clients, yet have a difficult time applying the principles to themselves.

Most of us in the helping professions are self-employed and run our own businesses. We tend to identify with our business and genuinely feel the ups and downs, and financial pressures that can lead us to poor self-care.

We will not take time off, because we need to get those appointments in, and meet our year-end goals.

We agonize over a tough case instead of coming home and transitioning out of work mode. We skip a workout to return a call or do some other inane task that will have negligible effect on our business. These things do not help us feel good, and these things do not make us better at our jobs. When we start to lose control of how we take care of ourselves, things become disorganized, jumbled and stressful. We lose track of the borders between our personal and professional lives. This can lead to a state of both exhaustion constant stress.

I believe that exhaustion, stress and anxiety are all made much worse by a lack of boundaries. The boundaries may be absent in one’s work life, one’s home life, or both.

In my experience, if a person has poor boundaries, they usually apply those poor boundaries to all aspects of their lives.

By definition, boundaries are intended to mark limits. Without them, we constantly push past our limits and have little left for ourselves. Since most helping professionals have a tendency to be on the more empathic side, this can have really negative consequences. If we are constantly pushed past our limits, we have a very difficult time trying to regain our center.

When you mention boundaries to a client, they often react with fear at having to set and maintain boundaries. After all, it is not uncommon for the setting of limits to be met with conflict. When you mention them to other professionals they react in much the same way. They do not want to leave their clients high and dry during difficult times.

The desire to help comes from a good place, but often leaves the helper feeling exhausted.

When we lose track of our boundaries we have a hard time differentiating between our own feelings and the feelings of others. This can lead to some difficult situations if we are not careful. If we consistently maintained poor boundaries, we’d all run into an ethical problem eventually.

As far as I am concerned, the first step in taking care of oneself is identifying and setting boundaries. Once we gain more control over our time, we are able to focus on our own needs. My next entry will continue on this topic, focusing on ways to identify and meet our own needs.


 

I provide therapy and counseling for individuals. My style integrates various techniques, but I tailor my approach to each client’s unique needs. I am committed to helping people that experience anxiety resulting from trauma, work-related stress, legal issues or major life transitions. Together, we will work to calm your mind and create lasting change.

2727 Bryant Street Suite 550 Denver, CO 80211

People House Denver, 3035 W. 25th Ave, Denver, CO 80211

Always Hungry ll By Erin Amundson

Always Hungry
Erin Amundson, MA, LPC

As we approach the end of year and once again settle into the darkness of night, I’m encouraged to share a poem I wrote several years back.  The essence of the poem rings true for me again today, in the way that cyclical aspects of our core growth journey always do.  I’ll let you take in the poetry first, and then invite you in for more to consider.  Enjoy.  The poem is called Always Hungry

Dark stillness calls; For you I lose sleep

At the worry and the wonder

Of where I might find you next.

We had such a promising love affair once

My cold and starved curiosity

Exploring the depths you hid from me

Child-like, the two of us.  Child-like and afraid.

Then the world pounced, rushed me from behind,

and flung me, face-first, into the sunlight on the concrete.

Yes, the world took a cheap shot; And I quickly forgot you

To save the pain of remembering; All the others.

Yes I forgot, I forgot 

But still you didn’t leave me

You’ve held me all these years

You’ve held me so long I no longer know

How badly I want to go.

and nothing has changed, nothing has changed but me.  I’ve aged.

Aged and not grown, not moved, not known.  A life lived in circles, so perfect,

so hurtful.  Disturbing and peaceful. 

I practice Jungian Psychotherapy professionally.  I like to refer to it more often as Depth Psychotherapy, because while Jung is one of my heroes in passing, not everyone associates his name with what he actually taught.

In addition to spreading this knowledge and these practices to my clients, I have a thriving practice of my own, in my own home.  I have no memory of writing this poem, but my writing is a part of my practice.  In reviewing it, it’s clear to my ego mind that the poem was a message from my psyche (or soul, or God, or the universe) about the subtle presence of a recurring relationship pattern that’s self-destructive for me. Something I can surely interrupt in favor of what my soul truly wants to experience in this life. Powerful.  Simple. Profound.

As I reflect on the message of this poem, I recognize that I’ve had self-destructive relationships with all kinds of people and substances and behaviors throughout my life. 

I feel like I am at the beginning of the end of engaging this self-sabotage in favor a life really lived.  And as this poem from the past showed itself to me again today, I wonder how many people in the world might relate to the urge to let go of outdated self-sabotage in favor of a fresh start. 

While we are all unique in what we’re called to, it occurred to me this week that some of you out there might benefit from my sharing of this work, in the hope of inspiring you toward a practice that works for you.

I will first say that your psyche (or soul, or God) communicates with you regularly, whether you’re picking up what it’s laying down or not. 

If you start the interaction, your psyche will gladly engage you and give you your own form of soul communication. 

This communication comes in the form of intuition, dreams, interactions with others, repeating themes (numbers, pictures, words) in the world, and perhaps most importantly, creativity.

Your psyche tells you a story – often like a cliff hanger television series – one episode at a time.  If you tune in regularly, you get the larger themes and deeper meaning of the story.  However, if you’re missing several episodes, it’s easy to get lost in the mundane territory of our ego thoughts, fears and desires.  

One of the most powerful ways I have found to tune into the psyche is through a creativity practice. 

This can take so many forms – some of which include art, music, writing, cooking, or even quieting your mind and taking in the creative works of another. This time of year is perfect timing to tune in and go deeper.  Soon enough, we’ll be encouraged once again by the longer days to be out in the world.  For now, allow the natural rhythm to invite you in. 

This holiday season, I would encourage you to engage with your creative self and bring the intention of opening a dialogue with your psyche to your practice. You don’t have to try hard, in fact it’s best if you don’t try at all, but rather, simply show up to the process of creativity with an intention and an open mind.  I would bet your psyche has been waiting to spend more quality time in deep conversation with you.  And when you break through into awareness, life becomes so much more rich, colorful and meaningful.  Mmmmm.  It’s goooood stuff.


 

Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution. 

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

December 5, International Volunteer Day: Who you been giving it to?* ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Dec. 5, International Volunteer Day: Who you been giving it to?*
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.‘Tis the season that brings out the good in us through donations of our time and/or money. Who and what are the recipients of your life?

Peshawar, Pakistan, fall of 1992.

We sat on our sunny veranda drinking coffee with a visiting professor from the United States who had his PhD in Hydrology and Water Management.

“I had a contract with the Pakistani government, but I realized that my efforts to improve Pakistan’s irrigation systems were only helping rich landowners. I wanted to help the poor, so I quit,” said Dr. J. Maurice.

Dr. Maurice knew that by increasing the wealth of the elites, not only was he not helping the poor, he was shoring up the institutional systems that kept the poor dis-empowered.

I met Dr. Maurice in Peshawar when I attended a course he taught sponsored by the International Rescue Committee, an organization that aids refugees and people whose lives are crushed by conflict and disaster. His class focused on providing sustainable and low-tech water supply and sanitation options for poor people in developing nations—people whom governments and the wealthy bypassed.

In 1991 my husband and I moved to Peshawar with our two sons. We’d met Afghans back in the States through a USAID-sponsored study abroad program which, over the duration of three years, brought more than 100 Afghans to the University of Nebraska. Because the Soviets were withdrawing from their 10-year occupation of Afghanistan, our friends had persuaded us to come over and help them rebuild their shattered country: Mike would work in health and I in reconstruction projects.

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Shakespeare’s Hamlet

 

For social change, we followed the example set by an 1800s English politician named William Wilberforce, who spent most of his professional career as a leader in the movement to stop the slave trade.

Wilberforce worked to change the INSTITUTION of slavery and fought powerful politicians and landowners who defended their rights to own people. He spent decades  battling down the structural elements embedded in Britain’s political and economic systems which believed it was okay to own, beat, rape, and starve to death other human beings—all for financial gain.

Alongside Wilberforce’s efforts to demolish the institution of slavery were groups who worked to improve the basic conditions of the enslaved, such as humanizing their living situations and providing free health care and clothing—band aids basically—treating the symptoms vs. the disease.

And in aid work, both structural changes and band aids are needed.

During our 20 years of striving internationally for social justice by changing the institutional systems that kept people poor, something flipped in the United States. Religious establishments and non-profits began to model their organizations after private enterprise. They filled their boards with successful business people. Leaders in groups such as Philanthropy without Borders sought “market-friendly solutions” to extinguish poverty.

It all felt “off” to us. Our goals of changing unjust social institutions seemed at odds with the wealthy who benefited from these institutions. Think U.S. mortgage crisis of 2008.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big fan of private enterprise as an essential tool in fighting poverty. I’ve seen how one cow through the sale of its milk buys education and healthcare for a Tanzanian family; how one electric mixer opens up the door for an enterprising young woman to make and sell desserts for the Muslim’s Eid holiday; how one propane gas grill creates a restaurant—and jobs—in a remote Indonesian village.

And now, Anand Giridharadas, in his 2018 book, Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World, articulates why it felt so off (1).

Giridharadas presents familiar statistics, in that in the past 35 years, the average pretax income of the bottom half of Americans has stayed almost precisely the same—that’s 117 million Americans who’ve been left out of the benefits of progress. But the pretax income of the top tenth has doubled, the top 1 percent has tripled, and the top 0.001 percent has increased by seven times.

Out of this wealthy one percent have emerged philanthropists eager to change the world—but on their terms. Elites have assumed leadership of social change, reshaping what social change is, and in the process, they protect the institutions that created their wealth.  

How corporations make their fortunes and any serious social consequences are conveniently ignored as discussion topics.

In Asia, resource extraction industry CEOs would approach Mike, asking him to head up their health clinics (he always refused) in order to fulfill their corporate social responsibility (CSR) piece. They needed to “give back” to the community—by contributing a negligible percentage of their profits to social issues.

“Make our employees healthy after we’ve poisoned their drinking water through our unregulated gold mining operations—and because the government doesn’t provide any healthcare,” they’d infer, while the wives of CEOs bragged about their new Mercedes’ they’d waggled out of the predatory corporations. CSR sugar-coated the human rights’ abuses and environmental blight they created, aided and abetted by government-sanctioned poverty and environmental destruction.

Government-controlled media extolled the virtues of how these profitable companies had installed clinics in remote jungles, while these same governments refused access to outside journalists for fear of them exposing human rights’ violations.

The only thing better than being a fox is being a fox asked to watch over hens.

Anand Giridharadas

 

Giridharadas tells of the Even app to download on your phone—for a fee of $260 per year. Even’s mission as laid out on their website is to “end the paycheck-to-paycheck cycle.” It says that, “More than 50 percent of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. We’re trying to fix that, by building new financial services that make it easier to make ends meet, pay down debt, and save money.” It’s basically a banking app that tells you how much is in your account.

But according to Giridharadas, the unaddressed and sidelined institutional issues of the Even app include the increasing practice of employing people intermittently “and the new on-demand economy that left many eternally chasing work instead of building livelihoods.” This on-demand economy often offers no pension plan and or paid time off—thereby generating more predatory corporate profits. Paychecks fluctuate weekly. Even encourages businesses to offer its services as a benefit to its employees—employees who stagger under the predatory effects of the same corporate employers.

Ergo, the creators of the Even app protect their wealth-producing systems and make money off the disadvantaged, calling it a “win-win” situation.

“The only thing better than controlling money and power is to control the efforts to question the distribution of money and power. The only thing better than being a fox is being a fox asked to watch over hens,” Giridharadas says.

In other words, with a near monopoly on wealth and power, the elites of our country are changing society in ways that do not change the underlying economic system from which their wealth flows—and they end up with a near monopoly on the benefit of change.

Who will decide what the requisite reforms of our common life ought to look like?

Will these reforms be led by governments elected by and accountable to its citizens? Or by patronizing wealthy elites claiming to know our best interests? And what needs changed? For starters, let’s talk about the rising inequalities of income, wealth and opportunities. Or how about political campaign finance reform, and the corruption and capture of politics and institutions through unregulated corporate and individual political influence. And then there’s education reform, ending the voucher practice of siphoning off tax dollars to private education to the death of public education—where most children are still educated.

In 1985 the United Nations mandated December 5 as International Volunteer Day for Economic and Social Development, with particular emphasis on volunteer contributions to the achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals at local, national, and international levels (2).

Unless we have anesthetized ourselves against its commercialism, this month of holidays brings out the giving in us. We give our lives and energy in the form of time and/or financial resources—sometimes to strangers. So please, go ahead and put on those band aids, but at the same time look for ways to change the system!

                                               I sit on a man’s back choking him and making him carry me,                 and yet assure myself and others that I am sorry for him and wish to lighten his load by all means possible …. except by getting off his back.

Leo Tolstoy, What Then Must We Do?

Who you been giving it to?*

 

*I owe this phrase to Northern Arizona blues singer and song writer Tommy Dukes https://www.facebook.com/Tommy-Dukes-Blues-1464722743832632/

______

Notes & Sources:

1. Giridharadas, Anand. Winners Take All: The Elite Charade of Changing the World. Alfred      A. Knopf publishers. 1998.

2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_Volunteer_Day               https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainable_Development_Goals

______
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 People House 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.

What to Do When You are Triggered to Remain Connected ll By Dorothy Wallis

What to Do When You are Triggered to Remain Connected
By Dorothy Wallis

 

You are designed to connect.  “There is only One need and that is the need to connect,” says Deepak Chopra.  So why is it so difficult to remain connected with those we love? When you are relating to another you are either connecting or disconnecting from them. You move between connection and disconnection in a flash.

Disconnection is like having a switch that suddenly turns off the light of connection.

You turn off the radiating warmth of your love and caring.  Your attention moves inward and you either retreat within yourself or put up a shield of defense.

When something hurts you, your body naturally responds to protect you and it does so very quickly.  If you are physically hurt, your body swiftly goes into action to mitigate the damage. Pain lets you know that something is wrong.  The same response occurs emotionally when your esteem, values, and opinions are hurt or denigrated. You feel pain. Your defenses kick in and “trigger” a physical and emotional response.

The physical response is felt as intense sensation and your emotions flare up to protect you and warn you to pay attention.  If your safety is threatened, the reaction will be instant.

“Triggering” floods your body with neurotransmitters and hormones. Your senses are activated to be alert and your body is activated to be ready to take action.  Immediately, you feel a “Whoosh” or Rush of energy. The sensation is rapid and you will react from habit. The way you react depends on the pattern of reaction you developed that worked most often.  These reactions are induced by the limbic system for the purpose of protecting and defending you. You instinctually react to avoid emotional hurt or pain. You may suppress your feelings or project them out.  Handling the hurt in these ways avoids the message your body is giving you. Since you have not dealt with the hurt, it will ramp up the sensations and emotions until you pay attention to them.

It may seem counter-intuitive to attend to pain.  But that is exactly what is required. In order to come out of disconnection and being “triggered,” you must be self-aware of what is at the root of your hurt.    

Your natural instinct with a physical injury is to take care of it.  A broken bone in your leg hurts and so you take care of yourself by going to the doctor so that it can be “set.”  It may still hurt while it is healing because your body is telling you that you should not use this part of your body until it is completely healed.  If you do not listen to this message and go hiking or jogging, you may injure it further. The same goes for your emotional body.

If you do not listen to what is hurt inside and take care of it, it may fester into a larger wound.

Emotional energy builds and the disturbance remains in your body.  If it is not paid attention to, it will manifest as a physical problem or illness.   

The ego’s defense mechanism is primal.  It assumes that there is danger outside of the self and with that perspective it believes that other people make us disconnect or even force us to disconnect due to their negative behavior.  Self-awareness tells you that you are always in control of when you disconnect or connect. You have the power and choice whether to stay connected or not. Focusing on blaming your partner or friend will not result in creating connection.  The first step is to find out what is really going on within you and that starts with introspection.

Begin with a non-judgmental perspective and the realization that your pain resides inside of you.  Whatever outer circumstances are bringing it up is only part of what is really happening. Your first thoughts will be about what is happening externally to you.  You may need to withdraw. It is natural to protect yourself from harm or from harming another. Often what occurs in relationship are habitual patterns and reactions.  Instead of seeing a situation clearly without preconceived ideas about what is happening there are assumptions about what the intentions the other person has or the meaning about what is happening.  These assumptions can cause unnecessary pain. The negative stories we tell ourselves about others behavior or actions is usually laced with judgment.

Before you make accusations take the time to calm down (see below) and then check in with the other person to find out their perspective. Really listen.

It is also important to release any self-blame or thoughts of “screwing up again” because this is just another form of disconnection.  Shift your awareness to go into the spaciousness of peace and harmony that is within you. The more you go into this silent place, the more you will find that peace and love are always available.  Pain means that you are disconnected from the state of wholeness. Connecting to the source in your heart melts the disconnection and you will see how it heals your relationships.

When you are triggered, you can use the Basic Heartfulness practice to connect and attend to your pain and come back into balance.  As you do this practice, you are moving your consciousness from a primal defensive perspective into the expanded open consciousness of your higher mind.  Through this process, you can go to the source of your hurt, which may surprise you to see that the pain you feel has been there before in another form. With insight, you can change the story, the beliefs that no longer serve you, and find out the message your emotions are conveying to you.  Allow the wisdom within to tell you what you really need.

Attending to Your Emotions and Pain:  The BASIC Heartfulness Practice

B: Breath

A: Awareness

S: Sensation

I: Inquiry, Insight, Intuition, Images

C: Centered, Calm, Connection

 

Breathe

• Be silent.  Stop yourself from speaking.

•Focus on your breath coming in through your nose.  Take some deep breaths in and out through your heart center allowing the initial Whoosh of emotion to calm down.  Feel your feet firmly on the ground. As you focus on your breath, your thoughts will calm. If you find your thoughts intruding, return to focusing on the breath coming into your nose.  Feel the sensations of the stream of air on the inside of your nose.

Awareness

•Deepen your awareness of your body.  

•If you are still feeling a rush from being “triggered,” breathe in to a count of 4 and breathe out longer to a count of 7 or 8.  This engages the parasympathetic system, slowing your heart rate and calming your body. Do the “long outbreath” as many times as it takes for you to feel your body calm down.

•Continue breathing through your heart.

•When you feel centered, allow your breath to become natural.

Sensation and Inquiry

•Turn your eyes inward, inside of your body.  Gently scan your body to locate the disturbance of energy.  You may feel it in more than one place. Go to where it is strongest.  Your natural reaction may be to not want to touch or feel the sensations.  Relax into it and swaddle the tension with your care. Your body wants you to go to this place.  As you focus your attention on the disturbance, it will respond. The disturbance is both a physical reaction and energy.  With your awareness notice the area of your body where it is located. What size is the disturbance? What does it look like?  Just noticing the actual physicality of the energy, what is the action? Is it still, moving, contracting or expanding? If you could touch it, what is the texture?  What color is it? Does it smell? Does it have a sound? What is the temperature? Is it hot or cold? Inflamed or dull? Wet or dry? Explore it with all of your senses.  Be aware of everything you ”see” in this area of your body.

•Does it change as you pay attention to it?

•Breathe into the area from your Heart with feelings of acceptance.

Insight

•Allow the energy to “speak” to you.  What insights arise?

•What is the Truth in this moment?

•Are you physically safe?  What does not feel safe?

•Is there some action to take or not?

•If you are feeling emotionally hurt, bathe yourself in compassion.

•What is the story you are telling yourself?

•Are you holding on to a story that no longer serves your highest good?

•What assumptions have you made that you want to check out?

•Forgive and release anything in the past that no longer serves you.

•What is the story you want to create that fills you with joy?

•Receive whatever insights or images arise.  

Centered, Calm and Connected

•Feel the Loving spaciousness that exists in your Heart.

•Connect to your True Essence self and receive compassion.

•Allow the flow of loving kindness to radiate into all of your being and outward into the world.

•Feel yourself being Centered, Calm and Connected.


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

     

Do You Know How to Generate Wisdom from your Shame? ll By Erin Amundson

Do You Know How to Generate Wisdom from your Shame?
By Erin Amundson

 

This blog is highly personal.  Most of my writing is personal, but this one truly comes from a place of feeling like my life has been ripped open for no real reason, and not knowing what else to do but to write about it.  I write about it in the hopes that someone else will benefit from my experience.  I write in the hopes that I will find the wisdom in the chaos of my current emotional state.  I write because writing is a tether that keeps me connected to my core when nothing else seems to work. 

And if I’ve learned anything in my personal and professional journey, it’s that finding and honoring what tethers us is crucial if we want to grow through our pain. 

There are two contexts that I write this blog under.  The first is that I totally forgot the deadline for this blog to begin with, and as a result I fell very harshly into a state of self-criticism, judgment and shame.  I know by now that shame offers two options: I can move through it and find the source of the wound (certainly it’s NOT a missed deadline), or I can submerse in it and allow it to whittle away at my life — stealing my productivity, my sense of purpose, and my grounding in the knowledge that I’m lovable through my mistakes. 

I don’t know about you, but I feel that my time on earth is short, and I want to live my life, play big, and spend as much time as I can in a state of joy.  So I chose to move by writing it out. 

The second context is a realization I had after pulling myself together enough to give an interview about my work.  In this interview, a deep truth came to the surface.  Every experience that I have in my life is an opportunity to generate wisdom that I can share with the world.  As I heard these words come out of my mouth, tears welled up in my eyes in recognition of the deep, meaningful connection I was making between my own spiritual crises, and the ability to find a reason and a healing every single time.  And I realized that if I can do it, so too can you. 

I still haven’t figured out the source of my shame that was ultimately triggered by a missed deadline, but I am steeped in the knowledge that even in the most painful moments of my life, I can remember my core self and remain faithful that my navigation system will get me to where I’m going once I’ve been properly re-routed. When I dig into the experience of deep shame, I recall that sometimes our systems need a complete shut down in order to enter a new season, with fresh eyes and an open heart.  I am aware of the need to be able to lean into darkness with anticipation of the light that calls us to the other side. 

This shame, in part caused by childhood sexual abuse, in part by a horrible boss who told me I had no skill for writing, in part by a deeply manipulative ex-partner, may not be resolved easily.  It feels heavy.  It feels deeply unconscious.  It feels overwhelming.  And yet, while I write, I’m finding some wisdom to guide me into a better place so that I do not have to suffer or dim my light while I work through it.  Here is what I’ve got – self generated wisdom to share with you if you should find yourself in the midst of a shame crisis.    

1. BE GENTLE. If I was better at this, I probably wouldn’t be writing this blog.  But it’s incredibly important.  When you catch yourself in crisis, PLEASE do your best not to judge where you’re at.  Where you’re at is perfect, and you’ll see for yourself when all of the pieces fall back into place or you find your new life or you recognize your own strength.  Take baby steps to take care of yourself — eating well, sleeping, moving, meditating, finding reasons to smile – the little things  go a long way.  Nurture yourself as much as you can, and have gratitude for your ability to walk through darkness.

2. THOU SHALT NOT COMPARE. Nobody else is on the same journey as you in the same way as you. Someone else’s experience of divorce, career change, grief, moving across the world or letting go of pain and shame has nothing to do with yours.  Comparison is a natural function of our core desire to connect to one another, but it actually separates us from ourselves.  Instead, connect with others by vulnerably sharing your truth about your experience.  I guarantee you, there is a unique wisdom in your own path’s unfolding.  And comparing only makes our self-judgment harsher.

3. TEST YOUR LIMITS. You are in crisis to grow. Remember this.  Every challenge or dark time in your life is in front of you to show you something more about yourself.  When you are pushed to the edge, you have the opportunity to expand your capacity, which means discovering new strengths and connecting to deeper truths about yourself.  Think of it as though every edge is merely an expansion of yourself.  These overwhelming emotions are akin to growth or birthing pains as you stretch yourself or birth a new version of you.

4. HAVE GOOD MIRRORS. Surround yourself with people who know your core, who support your growth, and who have an ability to read between your lines. Consider a therapist or a coach. Consider detoxifying your life of people who do not love and support you.  Choose partners, friends and colleagues who support you, who lift you up and encourage you and who understand that moments of weakness are actually moments of great courage and strength in disguise. 

5. KNOW YOUR TETHERS. I mentioned that writing is a tether for me in times of crisis.  It may not be your thing.  Other common tethers include creative or mechanical projects, playing, listening to or writing music, yoga, an animal soul mate, cooking, gardening, or solving a puzzle.  A tether is really anything that you can do or connect to no matter what state of mind you’re in that reminds you of who you really are.  It’s an act that lies close to the heart of you.  It’s the thing that makes you feel more like you. If you don’t know what your tethers are, see number 4.  Find a good mirror to help you explore. 

Of course, at the end of all of this, one of the best ways I know to turn things around is to remember that you are a wisdom generator. 

Your life provides you exactly what you need to grow into the person you are meant to be.

Every challenge reflects your strength, and every new level of joy reflects your depth. Be wise, be strong, be beautiful and be brave.  I love you. 

 


Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Collective Supremacy in Good or Evil? ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Collective Supremacy in Good or Evil?
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.


 

Amidst the pain of political pipe bombs and Pittsburgh’s anti-Semitic domestic terrorism, how many of you felt that jolt of love pulsing through the internet last week? A few days ago we learned how butter supplier Land O’Lakes was a corporate sponsor of Iowa’s GOP congressman Steve King who has a reputation for supporting white supremacists—including tweeting support for Nazis.

When social media got wind of it, a boycott was threatened against Land O’Lake products­—not good for corporate profits on the cusp of holiday baking season. And guess what? Enough of a national outrage ensued from our citizens for Land O’Lakes to issue a press release saying they would no longer support Rep. King.

This is a positive sign. Americans are collectively calling for love of the Other vs. hate.

Contrast this with a conversation I had with some educated, young white men. One was telling us of a male speaker he had heard, who started his lecture by saying, “White supremacy built this country”.

I countered with what REALLY built this country was yes, supremacy, but it was white supremacy in VIOLENCE, THEFT, and GREED—all wrapped in fear of the Other and condoned by their God. Bluntly, our nation was built on a powerful, patriarchal, white collective choosing evil.

Most of the Europeans colonists were barred in their home countries from owning land, and so they fought to claim land here, along with its resources, such as forests, hunting rights, water, fishing rights, coal and other extractive resources. It didn’t matter if Native Americans claimed the land first.  The trespassers had greater weapons of violence—using gunpowder invented by the Chinese. They took that gunpowder and used it to serve hate—becoming supreme in greed-fueled violence and theft, slaughtering whoever got in their way. The very freedoms and rights they sought they denied the Other. The oppression they were fleeing they imposed on the Other.

The South and much of the Eastern seaboard were built with both black and white slaves. Slavery’s nothing new. Down through the centuries, all races have built economic wealth by enslaving women and men. But Southern white colonists exhibited superiority in violence against slaves—often government-sanctioned.

I lived almost two decades in Asia and Africa. White folks don’t hold exclusive rights to those values, which certainly don’t translate into any sort of “superiority” in intelligence. Living by greed, violence, and theft just means living immorally with your reptilian brain and bigger weapons—not a higher consciousness—and anyone can do that.

 

Tip the Scale Toward Good

I asked People House co-founder Pat Pendleton  how to navigate this divisive political climate. She said that, “Good and Evil have always existed and always will. We must listen to our better angels to tip the scale toward Good. It’s a constant act of awareness to shine the light on Good and not allow Evil to thrive” (1).

And what is the Good?

The story is told of a Cherokee speaking to his grandson about the battle between the two wolves who live inside all of us. “One is Evil. It is anger, jealously, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, and ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, and truth,” he tells his grandson. And the winner? “The one you feed.”

Without getting into the weeds over this, let’s just say that I like this Cherokee’s definition of “the Good.”

And WHY choose the Good? Ethical philosophers have written tomes on this this topic for more than 2,000 years. Circuitous reasons abound. “Because it’s good to choose the good.” “Because of karma.” “Because God says so.” But which God? Hindu? Jewish? Muslim? Catholic? Protestant? And which God gets to decide what the Good is? Many of us believe a dogmatic presentation of the Good is just a way to maintain the status quo and control and destroy the nonconformists (2).

After many years of ignoring my soul’s pleas and preferences, these days I honor it with my attention   to what brings it life. Therefore, I paused over a simple explanation given by Larry Behrendt (3) when I felt an emotional reaction to his words.

Based on the Socratic/Platonic doctrine, he ends his piece with, “But the goal of knowing the good is to improve the soul, which is the person.” Why is this important, psyche? I asked myself.

To “…improve the soul.” Improve means to raise to a better quality or condition. Choosing Good over Evil is like strengthening a muscle you didn’t know you had while lifting weights to work on a different muscle.

After a while you recognize you’re stronger in a certain way but don’t know how you got there. My soul likes it when I choose the Good, it needs this—it’s how I’m meant to live—whether my rational brain understands this or not.

Collectively Choosing the Good

Ms. Pendleton continued: ““Choosing Good is not a onetime battle to be won, it is ongoing and always will be. We have let ourselves become subdued by the superficial—the reality show and the huckster— and have given evil a foot in the door. We are in a dangerous place and as a nation need to be reminded of our [higher] values. We need to take strong action toward love and oneness and away from separation and hate. We’d better do it soon with solidarity.” 

She believes lack of human connection contributes to this separation and hate, adding that, “Strong communities …religious or non-religious, where people support each other are important.”

And I believe that collectively choosing Good improves the soul of our nation in ways we won’t understand. 

Again, it takes choices. Our white, patriarchal ancestors were weak in choosing Good, but supreme in choosing evil. They were supreme in letting their baser selves take over.

Every day we have opportunities to choose love/the Good over hate. As we have seen played out on a national level, the myth of white supremacy promotes hate, anger, and violence toward the other.

GOP representative Steve King personally experienced that power of the collective choosing Good. Which one will you feed today?

______

Notes & Sources:

1.Interview via Facebook messenger, Oct. 30, 2108.

2. Many believe that God defines the moral rules and imposes the sense of duty. God is thus a surrogate parent, and by being good we gain divine reward and (we hope) avoid divine punishment.

3. https://philosophynow.org/issues/63/Why_Should_I_Be_Good

4. The biblical prophet Micah said, “He has told you, Mortal, what is good. What does the Lord require of you? To act justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8, New International Version)

_______

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.

 


Blog Disclaimer

The opinions expressed by the guest bloggers are their own and do not reflect the views of
People House. The content provided through the People House website and blogs are for
informational purposes only. Should you decide to take action in real life based on this
information that is your own responsibility and choice.

Developing Healthy Internal Self Esteem ll by Dorothy Wallis

Developing Healthy Internal Self Esteem
By Dorothy Wallis

 

Is your worth based upon your performance, or perhaps on your status or what you have acquired in life?  Maybe it is based upon others’ opinions of you.  When the voice of your Inner Critic disapproves of your abilities, performance, appearance, the possessions you own, or how you appear to others it can feel like a severe blow to your self-worth. This often happens after you receive some disappointment or loss in life.

In that moment, you begin judging yourself as “less than” or a failure, and your energy contracts

You protect your vulnerability by attempting to shut down or ignore the criticism.  You try to control it by pushing against the voice.  Whenever you push on an object or energy, you meet resistance.  The response of your ego is to push back harder and criticize louder.  It is merely doing its job of safeguarding your beliefs and values, holding you accountable and attempting to motivate you.  It seems counterintuitive to approach this voice and find out what it is pointing out, yet listening to it tells you how you judge and criticize yourself and what matters to you.  It reveals what may or may not require a shift in perspective or a corrective action.  

One gift it gives you is showing you your level of esteem and if that is externally or internally driven self-esteem.

Externally Driven Self-Esteem
Externally driven self-esteem is attaining value and worth outside of one’s self.  There are three primary ways in which we judge ourselves and look to receive worthiness.

Performance based Self-Esteem: I have worth based on what I do.  
Achievement, performance, and success establish the measurement of my worth.  This may include my skill at performing an activity such as athletics, dance, music, art, or sports.  It may be about what I accomplish or how successful I am at a career, attaining a degree or level of education, how much money I earn, how productive I am, how many promotions, publications, awards, trophies, or accolades I have that prove my skills, talent, success, intelligence, or achievement in any endeavor.  

Am I at the top or the bottom of my field?  I can be a perfectionist and strive to be the best.  I evaluate anything less than perfect performance harshly and my self-esteem declines.  Sometimes, I give up or quit if I believe I will not succeed.  Other times, I doggedly pursue my goals until exhaustion.  I am concerned about what the culture perceives as being highly accomplished.  If I don’t live up to my standard of performance or success I feel deflated and see myself as a failure or as an underachiever.  My fallibility is devastating.  I may judge how successful I am at having and maintaining relationships, how many friends I have, and how socially adept I am.  I am driven and relentless in my pursuit to perform and achieve in many arenas.  I am only temporarily satisfied with an accomplishment.  

Doing is my modus operandi.  Being is foreign.  

It is difficult to be still, to have space or time with nothing to do.  I do not feel worthwhile if I am not engaged in an activity, striving towards a goal or having a purpose. 
 
When a Performance-based individual is not dependent on success or accomplishment for their self-esteem, the upside is they have a consistent level of motivation to accomplish their goals while achieving a balance of inward spaciousness and relaxation.  When caught in doing to uphold their sense of worth, they quickly succumb to overdoing by working more hours, studying longer, and striving for perfection.  Their physical and mental health suffers.  A study by the University of Michigan found that thoughts of failure and loss of esteem in students increased anxiety and stress, caused distracted attention, reduced performance and productivity, and interfered with their memory. 

Attribute based Self-Esteem: I have worth based upon what I have, 

which establishes my identity.  Possessions, causes, or groups with exclusive status give me a sense of importance and prestige.  I feel better about myself when I own a particular car, motorcycle, RV, house, live in a certain neighborhood, travel to the most awesome destination or belong to a specialized group. 

My identity is enhanced by what I own, what I wear, by the gadgets, electronics, equipment, and by the tools that I acquire.

I am quick to purchase the newest and most updated “thingamajig” whether it is a device, mode of transportation, apparel or the latest and greatest trendy item.  When I join a sport, I am outfitted with all of the gear and clothing that define me as one who participates in that activity.  

I keep company with those who reinforce the attributes and values I deem bring status and importance and eschew those with differing values.  I join clubs, causes, groups and activities that uphold the view of myself as being special, distinct, unique, or “at the cutting edge.”  I may tie my identity to the privileged upper class or to shirking the status quo and living an alternative or minimalist lifestyle and conforming to the attributes characteristic of that niche.  My appearance identifies me with my “peeps” and/or beliefs.  Outer symbols are displayed, such as tattoos, hairstyle, piercings, uniforms, business suits, designer clothes, or other attire, to indicate, “what I have, whom I affiliate with, and thus who I am.”  

Even if I am a loner, I identify myself with a specific image, status, cause or ideology.  My identity is dependent upon the acquisition of possessions, titles, prestige, philosophies, causes or membership in distinguished groups. With each acquisition or identification, I receive a boost to my ailing ego and a false sense of superiority. 

The thought is, “if I own this, if I obtain this notoriety, if I belong to this group or level of consciousness, I am somebody and above the fray.  I will be safe.”

Without these, I am invisible, I am nothing, I don’t exist, I have no meaning and am at a loss to know who I am or at the worst how I can survive.  When the external validation through these means fails to materialize, my self-esteem plunges into despair and depression.  Without an outer identity or status, I see myself as vulnerable and worthless.

The upside of Attribute-based Individuals is their industriousness and creativity.  When they learn how to value their intrinsic worth, their skills can beget amazing innovation.  When in the unhealthy state of acquisition and possession, their focus is purely on filling up the emptiness inside of them.  They have little regard for the well-being of others creating distance and separation. 

Other based Self-Esteem: I have worth based upon what others think about me.  
I have worth when I receive approval from others or receive recognition.  What other people think about my body, appearance, intelligence, ideas, decisions, abilities, and personality affect how I see myself.  When someone tells me I am wrong, doesn’t agree with me, debases me, ignores me, or thinks I am flawed in some way, I sink into feelings of rejection and my inner critic flares up adding even more disapproval.  I feel attacked and go into “fight, flight, or freeze” mode.  I flee and appease by deferring to the opinions and decisions of others rather than acknowledging what is right or true for me or I may attack by angrily and defensively pushing back to protect my sense of esteem.  Sometimes, the disapproval is so devastating to my sense of worth that I freeze and withdraw completely. I may suppress my knowledge, intuition, intelligence, or believe that I am stupid, incompetent, weak, ugly, no good and “I don’t matter.”  

I seek approval to feel loved and attempt to protect my sense of worth by surrounding myself with only people that approve of me.  I have weak or no boundaries and tend not to assert my needs.  I may take care of others’ needs so they will like or approve of me.  I listen and pay attention to beliefs about what is considered beautiful, strong, talented, intelligent and ideal.  I compare myself with others and may be envious of those fitting accepted norms of appearance, talents and abilities.  I am hyper critical of my physical appearance and body image.  It leaves me open to public scrutiny and derision.  If I think my body, appearance, talents or intelligence do not meet a perception of perfection, my inner critic has a field day of self-loathing and self-deprecation.  

The upside to Other-based Individuals is their orientation towards relationships and people.  

When they find a balanced internally based self-esteem, they can be good listeners, empathetic, compassionate and create intimate relationships.  

However, when they are seeking others’ approval it creates a very precarious and fragile emotional state.  

Our culture fervently reinforces receiving Adulation and Worth from outside ourselves

It is common for us to receive our esteem from outside sources because we are taught to value success, achievement, possessions and the opinions of others.  These are all worthy pursuits, which enhance, add great value and meaning to our life.   However, our culture fervently reinforces receiving adulation and worth from outside of ourselves.  It becomes problematic when we base our value and worth as humans on these sources and disengage from our internal truth and knowing of our inherent worth.  If you are thrown into despair or turmoil every time you fail to obtain what you think you need, it behooves you to be aware of the external source, your judgments about yourself and what you fear.  Unfortunately, receiving your self-worth from the outside is fundamentally unstable and insubstantial.  It is a vulnerable and limiting position to be at the mercy of fluctuating achievement, performance, and status, or maintaining an identity based on acquisition or others approval. 

External drives may lead you into behaviors and actions that are detrimental to yourself and others preventing you from knowing and expressing your true self. 

Uncovering Your Most Prominent Type of Externally based Self Esteem
The next time your Inner Critic starts nagging notice what it is saying. 

• Which externally driven source of esteem is it commenting about?  

• What effect is it having on my self-esteem?  

• Notice your energy.  Am I feeling small, diminished, weak, or contracted?

• Do I feel overwhelmed, anxious, stressed, vulnerable, angry, fearful or need to protect myself?

• Am I feeling “Less Than” others, “Superior” to others, or Equal to others?

• How often does my Inner Critic arise around a particular theme?

• Is my self worth based more on what I do, what I have, or others opinions of me?

Internally Based Self-Esteem: Authentic, Stable, and Secure
Internal self-esteem comes from the inside; you authentically know that you have intrinsic value and worth simply by being born.  You value yourself as a unique being. 

There has never been or will be another human exactly like you.

When you develop internal self-esteem, you have an inner resource of stability that doesn’t get buffeted about.  You have a deep sense of security and like yourself with all of your frailties, foibles, and idiosyncrasies.  You are confident in your ability to meet life’s challenges and have the resilience to cope with failure and loss.  You know you have the ability to make choices, to express your true self and to assert your needs.  You know you are capable of being successful and happy.  You value yourself for whom you are rather than for what you own, achieve or if others approve of you.  You do not feel superior to or lesser than others.  You see yourself as an equal without the need for constant validation.  You have a deep acceptance for being completely and authentically yourself. 

****************************************************************************************

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

 

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

The Real Secret – How Your Subconscious Plays a Role in Manifestation ll By Erin Amundson

The Real Secret – How Your Subconscious Plays a Role in Manifestation
By Erin Amundson MA, LPC

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with a friend who has been looking for a new job for quite some time.  This friend of mine has an impressive resume, an attractive personality, amazing personal references and has been in the search for work for more than a year in a market that should be relatively easy to find a job in.  He’s working his tail off, he’s hired professionals to review his resume, and he follows up every time.  He’s doing “everything right” – and not succeeding.  Well, everything, that is, except perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT thing: examining his subconscious beliefs and managing his energetic output.

When I engaged him in a process of going deeper, we discovered a few things.  One, he had been shamefully and arguably wrongfully terminated from a job in the height of his career.  Two, as a child he was constantly told he wouldn’t amount to much by an abusive father.  Three, he had become desperate for a job, and that was very clear in his body language and energy. 

First, let’s look at his past in the context of the quantum world we live in.  New science continues to prove that we are made of energy and the environment around us is made of that same energy (this is at the smallest level of the molecule).  Science also tells us that these energetic particles are in a feedback loop with one another.  That means that we take in the information from our environment and adjust to it, and our environment takes in the information from US and adjusts to it. 

So, the question I always ask is this:  Do you want be a product of your environment or the creator of it? 

As adults, we have the choice.  However, we’ve all heard children called “sponges” and for good reason.  When my friend was small, his environment was one of abuse, failure, limitation, addiction and struggle.  His little being soaked all of that up, and because his young brain wasn’t developed enough to process it, the information was stored in his subconscious, which created a program of output based on his environment.  My friend now puts out a literal vibe of being worthless, having to struggle, being a victim and failure.   And as he is interviewing for jobs, these are the messages that are reflected right back to him.

On paper, and in person, you’d never know this about my friend.  The truth is, he didn’t know it about himself.  Consciously, LOGICally, he knows he’s talented and hard working. 

But under the surface, he is still telling the story of his childhood, reinforced by the story of his being fired mid-career. 

 I suspect he will either attract no employment at all or another abusive employer if he doesn’t shift the story of his subconscious. 

The second factor keeping my friend from his dream job is his desperation.  This one was developed after a few months of searching and failing.  He approaches his interviews with a neediness, that ultimate keeps attracting more need into his life.  If we spoke to the employers, we’d probably hear them say something like, “I can’t put my finger on it, but something about that guy just doesn’t FEEL right.”  And they’d be correct because my friend is out of alignment to attract what he wants.

So what’s the message in this story? 

If you’re working to co-create your life – whatever it is that you want – and it’s not working out for you, you may need to explore your subconscious.

Most of the great law of attraction literature teaches us to manage our thoughts.  I think this is great – but did you know that our conscious brain is only 5% of the story?  The rest of the information, particularly information we have taken in as children, is stored in our subconscious.  The subconscious thoughts and beliefs put out just as much of a vibe as our conscious thoughts and beliefs.  It is only when we bring them into our conscious awareness that we truly have the power to create what we desire. 


Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Welcoming Your Inner Voice into the Conversation ll By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Welcoming Your Inner Voice into the Conversation
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

While living in Islamabad, Pakistan, our nine-year-old son casually mentioned to us at the dinner table that a big fear of his was that we—mom and dad—would die during the night and he wouldn’t know how to contact his Aunt Kris back in the United States. This was when Internet hardly functioned and international phone calls could take days to ring through.

He then calmly went on to ask, “And who do you think would want our pots and pans?” followed by his short list of recipients.

To assuage Jon’s fears, we wrote down names and local phone numbers (why hadn’t we thought of this earlier??) of the Rawalpindi Leprosy Hospital where Mike worked, which was run by four German Lutheran nuns. “If anything should happen to us, call the Sisters. They have all the phone numbers, they’ll take care of everything, including the pots and pans.” That’s all he needed to know.

We did keep our shocked and sad faces as near to normal as we could at this revelation of the burden he carried. This was before 9/11, and while foreigners could be the recipient of intentional acts of violence, greater concerns consisted of fatal car accidents or being at the wrong place at the wrong time. An unsuspecting white person could quickly find themselves the scapegoat of mob mentality. Hence, we avoided military coups and political demonstrations. We made an effort to keep these personal security matters from emotionally leaking out in front of Jon—these were burdens he did not need to carry. Children create their own reality by picking up feelings of the adults around them, and not knowing all the facts, come to erroneous conclusions. Mike and I lived alert to our surroundings, but not fearfully—otherwise we might as well pack up and go home.  

So privately we high-fived each other, pleased with ourselves that he hadn’t visualized us dying at the hands of frenzied mobs.

Your emotion is part you. You’re made with it. Denying it and thinking it is all your mind, is denying your existence. -Ann Marie Aguilar

This was not an emotional discussion; Jon was factual, we were factual. We didn’t chide him, we didn’t pooh-pooh his fears, saying dismissive things such as, “Oh don’t be silly. That will never happen.”

Children instinctually focus on the bottom two tiers of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. The foundational tier—physiological–includes food, clothing, and shelter. The next level up, safety needs, includes security, stability, and freedom from fear. Jon’s imagination saw mom and dad dying in their sleep, and that everything would then be up to him.

If we had dismissed his fears as irrelevant and illogical, he could have grown up thinking his feelings didn’t matter. He could have grown up believing the only source of information he could rely upon was his rational brain’s analysis.

Rationality remains hallowed in our Western culture. Plato’s metaphor of humanity had two horses pulling the chariot. One is well-bred and well behaved; the other pulls this way and that. This latter horse symbolized a person’s negative and destructive emotions. The charioteer’s job was to rein this dark horse in.

Rene Descartes said the holy soul was capable of reason while our body was full of “mechanical passions.”

It wasn’t long before women came to embody the “mechanical passions” and men the “holy soul capable of reason.” Our patriarchal religious and political institutions used this as their rationale for controlling women. By osmosis, as a young woman I soaked up that worldview. I wanted admission into that make-believe club of rationality. I ignored my emotions and my intuition. The problem then, without even realizing it, is that the patriarchy  was still telling me what my feelings “ought to be.” My inner GPS circled round and round.

Rather than being your thoughts and emotions, be the awareness behind them.

-Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life’s Purpose

And then the pendulum began swinging in the opposite direction. Prestigious business schools taught and measured for emotional intelligence—“trust your gut”—turning out young men and women with MBAs who, if leaders, became a danger to those around them as they derisively ignored sage elders. Wiser elders do trust their guts—but that emotional wisdom manifested through cognitive choices came through decades of experience.

We get stuck in the either/or thinking of classical physics vs. and/both of quantum mechanics. And it isn’t logic OR emotions—it’s both. Yes, our minds create falsehoods around our perceived thoughts of what we believe other people may be thinking. But our emotions are our teachers—and so we pay attention to them but also bring in solid facts in order to examine our storyline from a rationale point of view.

I believe in intuitions and inspirations…I sometimes FEEL that I am right. I do not KNOW that I am-Albert Einstein

And how do we tell the difference between true intuition and a misleading emotion? How do we know if our intuitions are warning us of a harmful scenario, or are we just scared about going somewhere? Below are some suggestions; pay attention to what “pings” your spirit as you read them. 

1. For those of us who deadened and ignored our emotions for years, if not decades, it’s a long haul back to learning from that emotional part of ourselves which we forced into the shadows of our psyche. It will take time for that part of ourselves to trust us again. Think of a child with moody or unreliable parents: one minute they’re supportive, the next the parents are cursing the child.

2. Pay attention to your emotions, to your gut feelings. Welcome them, with curiosity: “Hmm… isn’t that interesting. What’s going on? Am I being triggered? If so, why?” Sit with them mindfully, welcoming them nonjudgmentally. If you push them away they won’t stay away, but will manifest themselves in various ways: cancer, headaches, various pains in your body—emotions carry energy.

3. Joel Marsh says that, “Intuition is the basis of decisions, which is informed by past emotions. Emotions are the result of experiences, which inform your intuition . . . . Intuition is the prediction; emotions are the consequence” (note 3).

4. Generally speaking, intuition is a gentle pull or push or knowing. Emotions tend to be a reaction to a thought or situation that triggers a feeling such as sadness, happiness or anger. Both express a portion of reality that logic may not be aware of.

5. Check out your motivations. Does ego want this in order to look good in the eyes of others, to please someone?

Fundamental to incorporating our emotions and intuition into our decision-making process are gentleness and patience. We will make mistakes—I call them experiments—but these become our teachers.  Through experience and sensitivity to our psyches we learn what was intuition-driven and what was emotion-driven.

We end up giving ourselves to the world as whole people, grateful for all our Divinely dispensed gifts—not just the ones ego believes are worthy of attention.

We all have an inner voice, our personal whisper from the universe.

All we have to do is listen—feel and sense it with an open heart.

Sometimes it whispers of intuition or precognition.

Other times, it whispers an awareness, a remembrance from another plane.

Dare to listen. Dare to hear with your heart.

Poet and writer CJ Heck, Bits and Pieces: Short Stories from a Writer’s Soul

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Notes & Sources:

1. Lehrer, Jonah. How We Decide, Mariner Books, 2010. Unfortunately, Lehrer made bad decisions and his publisher pulled the book after plagiarism was revealed. It’s an entertaining read, however, bringing insight and historical background to emotional intelligence.

2. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/emotional-fitness/201310/feelings-aren-t-facts

3. https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-distinguish-gut-intuition-from-emotion

_____________________________________________________________________________________________________

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

Unsolicited Advice: Helpful or Rude ll By Dorothy Wallis

October 2, 2018
Unsolicited Advice: Helpful or Rude
By Dorothy Wallis

  The need to “help” others or “fixing” the world and all that is wrong with it or whatever needs to be done “the right and proper way” has created a mindset amongst people with good intentions of overstepping the propriety of appropriate boundaries.  It has become commonplace for people to give unsolicited advice even about the simplest of tasks. It is almost a thoughtless reaction by some to tell a stranger or loved one what they “ought to do, should do, or how to do something.” In the mind of those giving this advice it may seem to be helpful or even done presumably from a heartfelt place.  Yet, unless done with permission, it is actually a violation of another person’s autonomy.

  Throughout my life, I have been on the receiving end of unwanted, unasked for advice and I imagine you probably have been too.  Rather than being helpful, it has left me feeling frustrated, distraught and sometimes discouraged. It seems to happen to me especially when I am involved in some physical activity that I am learning.

  Not long ago, I attended an afternoon hula class.  It may look simple, but it is actually very complicated.  There are specific arm and hand motions, along with intricate footwork and beautiful albeit difficult swaying of ones hips.  Putting all of this together is an art. The ongoing drop-in class was huge. There were the old timers that had been going for years and were very skilled, others that had recently joined and then the newbies like myself.  The instructor gave the history of the hula and then began with arm movements. He taught us a basic rotation of our hips with knees bent and then added steps. I was doing well at this point. As he progressed, he sped up the dance and I lagged behind.  I decided to concentrate on just the arms and stopped rotating my hips and doing the dance steps.

  I was having a delightfully enjoyable time gracefully following the arm movements until a lady next to me, who had a measure of hula proficiency, decided to take it upon herself to give me her advice.  “Rotate your hips,” she said sternly, “you need to move your hips, bend your knees, watch me.” The abruptness of her admonishment struck me with the feeling that I had personally sullied the hula dance.  I didn’t say anything. It stopped me in my tracks and my concentration went as well. It took me a moment to regain my composure as I ignored her and let her words fly past me.

  Receiving advice about the obvious is especially frustrating and demeaning.  It has a patronizing quality as if you are a child being told to wear your coat because it is snowing outside.  “Backseat driving” is an example. Telling a friend that has been driving for years, “You need to downshift, or upshift or get in the other lane,” feels rude and insulting.  Taking over another’s process or activity is condescending, “Here let me show you how to cut up that grapefruit.” This kind of offhand advice has an edge to it. Instead of helping another, it may be a form of dominance, an ego boost or one-upmanship disguised as helping.  A seemingly innocent comment when someone is struggling such as, “That’s why I do it this way,” may sound helpful but still signals the thought that the other is doing it wrong.  Telling someone what to do or how to do things sends the message that “I know better than you do.”  It feels powerful for the one giving the advice and can feel controlling to the one receiving it.

  Find out the underlying motivation you have to correct others or give them your opinion.  Perhaps you are critical of yourself and find that you unconsciously criticize others. Observe the effect on others and the areas you are most critical about.  What effect does your negative self-talk have on you? You may have a compulsive need to do things a certain way. Is there only one “right” way? Is it causing harm for others to do it their way?  

Let go of rigid adherence to specific ways of doing or thinking and see things from multiple perspectives. Allow others to make mistakes and allow yourself to learn new methods and experiences from them.

  Even if you truly believe you know a better way of doing something giving advice that is not asked for is usually not welcome.  Instead of being supportive, it often has the opposite effect of disheartening the receiver. When a person is having doubts about their ability, not only will they be reluctant to take your advice but they also may be inclined to stop trying to learn a new task.  If you bluntly give advice or rashly take over a task from someone, you are making assumptions about their abilities and knowledge. It is dismissive and belittling. Being controlled feels disrespectful and will often bring up a reaction of anger and stubbornness.  

Ask Permission
  If you are a person who tends to give unsolicited advice, what assumptions are you making about the other person?  Do you see them struggling and genuinely want to help them out of their frustration or do you see them as incompetent, incapable, weak, or deficient?  You may not believe they are inadequate, yet giving an unwanted opinion or attempting to fix another’s dilemma may imply it. If you sincerely want to help, ask permission to assist them.  Let them determine if they want your help or advice. There are times when taking quick action in an emergency is necessary and you can’t wait to ask. Yet, most of the time it will be apparent when you need to act and when you can take the time to assess a situation to see if your input is welcomed.  

  Recently, I was in the grocery store and turned my cart into an aisle where an elderly gentleman was stooped over and shaking all over.  He looked weak and in trouble. Instead of rushing in, I stood there for a moment and just observed him. He had a portable oxygen tank and seemed to be breathing just fine, but his shaking worried me.  I was thinking, “He looks like he needs help and no one else is around. What if he is having a heart attack?” I went up to him and asked, “Sir, are you alright, do you need help?” He turned and looked at me and replied, “No, thank you dear, I am fine.”  His speech was clear and indicated his honest desire to be left alone. He did not need or want my help. Just then a woman came around the corner into the aisle and went up to him. I assume it was his wife. She had been gathering groceries while he waited.  I was relieved and glad that I did not act hastily. He was in good hands and I did not infringe upon their privacy by asking the reason for his shaking. I respected his dignity by asking permission to assist and honoring his decision to decline.

When you ask permission, you are being thoughtful and helpful.  You are keeping your ego in check while allowing the autonomy and freedom of another.

Respecting Yourself When You Are on the Receiving End
  It took me many years when on the receiving end of unsolicited advice, to not take it personally and let the words and energy go past me without attaching to them.  If this is your story, know that you are not a helpless victim. Being triggered is normal and also points to a place inside where you are not feeling self-assured. If your self-esteem was totally confident you would either truly not care or when annoyed, you would be able to speak up and not allow someone to cross your boundaries.

Being silent while stewing inside and never speaking up is not beneficial.

  You have a responsibility to respect yourself and your friends and family by letting them know when something they are doing does not feel good to you. How else will they know when you feel intruded upon? It helps their growth as well as yours.

  It may feel awkward but when you realize your value, you will be able to trust that setting appropriate boundaries is good for you and for your relationships.  You will no longer attach to the pain of others and make it your own. Feeling upset or rejected from criticism and unwarranted advice will be a thing of the past.

  Whether you are on the giving end of unsolicited advice or on the receiving end, realize that your self-esteem is involved.  When you have healthy esteem you show respect for others and know that you deserve respect from others.

************************************************************************

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness. www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

     

On Letting Go ll By Erin Amundson

September 26, 2018
On Letting Go
By Erin Amundson

 

  In much of the spiritual and self help world that I engage, there is an emphasis on “letting go” and non-attachment.  If we truly want to manifest something, we have to want it badly and then let go of it at the same time. 

If we’ve outgrown a job, a relationship or a habit, we must simply let go. 

When someone leaves us, when things don’t work out the way we wanted them to, we are encouraged with vigor to let go and practice the law of non-attachment. 

  While I’ve appreciated the value of this advice, and the powerful transformations I’ve experienced as a result of learning to let go, I’ve realized recently that there isn’t much of a conversation about just how painful and difficult the process of letting go can be.  I haven’t come across any mention in all of the wisdom of my favorite teachings that breaks down the challenge of letting go and the reasons we sometimes cling so tight to an aspect of our lives that is ready to die.  And yet, this concept is all around the spiritual communities.  We let go in savasanah in our yoga practice, we “let go and let god” in Alcoholics Anonymous.  We meditate to achieve a state of letting go – non-attachment.  We consciously purge our belongings to let go of old stagnant energy in our homes.  In my ultra spiritual life, letting go is such a big part of my practice that I don’t even think about it. 

  Just yesterday, I met a friend who I’m saying goodbye to as I prepare to move to Europe.  She suggested that we perform a “letting go” ritual by stating some intentions and burying some physical representations of what we’re ready to leave behind in life.  I realized that I’ve done this kind of thing a lot. 

In fact, just about every autumn, I’m drawn to align with the cycle of the season, and mimic mother nature–

in her letting go process as we both prepare for hibernation and incubation.  But this time, as we approached the ritual, I was struck by the intensity of my recent emotional experiences of letting go of my life in the United States, and specifically in the beautiful state of Colorado. 

  Instead of just “letting go”, which to me would previously mean doing a ritual and being strong in the face of my emotions, I decided to slow down and really invite the process in.  And what I found was that I had tremendous grief about many aspects of the move.  Of course, I’m thrilled to be embarking on my life long dream of living in Europe, and because of the amazing-ness of my upcoming adventure, I felt that my friends and loved ones were confused by my grief.  And then I felt confused by it. 

  Upon reflection, I realized that this time, I’m letting go of some really wonderful things in order to make room for a lot of new really wonderful things.  In the past, it always seemed that I was letting go of things I’d outgrown, or relationships that had become toxic, jobs that had become stagnant.  In the experience of letting go of what has been a beautiful part of my journey,

I realized that my grief was triggering all of the old, unprocessed grief that has built up in my lifetime of letting go. 

I never grieved leaving my family home at 18 to pursue college, and in fact, I never really allowed myself to grieve any of my other letting go processes (other than the obvious grief of the death of a loved one). 

  In feeling the pain of it all, my emotional slate feels clean enough to build a whole new foundation.  I found myself wondering how my life might be different if I’d allowed myself to grieve the letting go experiences of my past.  I certainly can’t go back and change any of that, but I can move forward allowing myself to honor my attachments, even as I know I need to let them go.  There is good reason we find ourselves attached to certain places, relationships, jobs and things even if they are not good for us.  We are either adding value to our lives, or adding knowledge and growth when we acknowledge our attachments.  In this season, if you find yourself letting go of some aspect or aspects of your life, I encourage you to spend some time in the emotion of it.  If there is pain, let the pain be felt.  When we allow all of our feelings to pass through us, we clear the space for new feelings, added creativity, and a return to the flow that feels so good.  So let go, but don’t just let go.  Let go and let grief. 

 


About the author: Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  As the creator and founder of Natural Dream Technology, Erin knows that hidden beneath the surface of your conscious mind is a uniquely talented visionary, and she wants the world to benefit from your contribution.

After several fights with her own subconscious mind (and a re-occurring nightmare about skipping classes and failing), Erin finally surrendered and followed the wisdom of her natural technology to get a second graduate degree in Counseling at Regis University.  A life-long follower of dreams, Erin now began to learn the language of the subconscious as she slept.  Just as Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Steven Spielberg all experienced, Erin began to recognize in her dreams that her best work is to help you reclaim your connection to your own natural technology through dreams and the subconscious.  She has been teaching, facilitating and engaging in dream work with ambitious professionals ever since. 

Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Relational Awareness: (Part 3) Moving Out of Power and Control ll Dorothy Wallis

Relational Awareness: (Part 3) Moving Out of Power and Control

By Dorothy Wallis

 

Your first entrance into the world begins with relationship.  You come into the world with a small body that needs nurturing and care.  You cannot survive on your own.  You are not ready to stand and take care of yourself; you are dependent and vulnerable.  Naturally, there is an inborn fear of separation and a need to attach and bond.  Dependency is a gift that makes it necessary for you to be connected and engage with people and life.  Being seen with caring attention not only means that your basic physical needs will be met, it also fulfills a soulful need of value for simply being, it reflects back to you that you exist.  “I exist, therefore I am.”  You have an innate need to know that you belong, are valued, have meaning and are inherently good and worthy….

​From the start, a sense that you exist and your needs will be met is brought about by being recognized, accepted and valued by those around you. You look for external sources of confirmation of your worth so that you will receive all that you need.  Instead of “Self” esteem, the source of your esteem becomes associated with receiving it outside of yourself.  When you are loved and well cared for receiving external esteem feels great and is supportive.  The downside of this dependency is that no one else can provide for all of your needs nor can they give you the knowing of your inherent value and worth.  When you expect to get your needs or esteem met from others and don’t receive it, you are bound to be disappointed.  When you look to others for acceptance, approval and recognition, you give up awareness of your authentic self.  A sense of autonomy and control are vital stages of growth.  Placing the locus of control about your worth outside of yourself leaves you with a loss of control and sense of powerlessness. 
 
The sense of powerlessness and not being in control is frightening.  If you are powerless, you are vulnerable, which is, “a quality or state of being exposed to the possibility of being attacked or harmed, either physically or emotionally.”  Being powerless is dangerous.  Your sense of self contracts and you feel weak, diminished, helpless and exposed.  How will you survive?  Regaining your power and control is paramount.  Your psyche constructs the “adaptive child” to protect you and defend against harm.  When you are hurt, the first thing you want to do is stop the pain.  It’s all about stopping the pain.  Overarching instincts of survival kick in and you attempt to keep whatever is hurting you away or get others to give you what you want.  You cannot be concerned about anyone else or their feelings.  It is from this immature egoic child mind that the strategies of fight, flight, and freeze are formed and result in a conditioned stance.

Aggressive action to Regain a Sense of Power and Control

​The first strategy of ego defense is to use aggressive action as a way to gain back perceived loss of power and control.  The impulse to Fight shows up around the age of two, known as the “terrible twos.” Two year olds are known for the emergence of this strategy.  Anger, stubbornness, temper tantrums, firm “No’s,” and hitting are ways to keep others away or to get what you want.  Aggressive uncontained emotional outbursts such as yelling, screaming, shouting, wailing, whining or any sound that is frightening, offensive or annoying is often an effective way to get others to pay attention to your needs.  If this strategy gets results, it will remain as the first way to regain power. 

Passive action to Regain a Sense of Power and Control

​If you were demeaned, squashed, punished, or abused when you fought, you may have learned that fighting did not bring the power and control you sought nor did it work to get your needs met.  You found that keeping away from those that harmed you physically or emotionally kept you safe.  Flight is the urgent impulse activating you to flee, run away or distance yourself.  You learned how to remove your attention by either physically leaving a situation or by going inward, shutting others out, going silent and being passive.  It is the second strategy used by the “adaptive child.”

Inaction to Regain a Sense of Power and Control

​What happens when you can’t fight or run away?  Your psyche protects you by shutting down your conscious awareness so that you do not experience physical and emotional pain.  You Freeze.  You may “leave your body” and your memory and senses like your hearing and sight may turn off or be severely diminished. 

What Happens when you Use these Strategies in Your Adult Relationships?

​Part 2 of the Relational Awareness series introduced the Adaptive Child and the four non-relational stances that the ego uses to defend and protect.  A deeper look at these strategies reveals the way they keep you in a revolving door of separation and escalating conflict.

The “adaptive child” strategies are useful when you are a child and are dependent on your caretakers.  They also protect you in extreme danger.  But how do these strategies work in your relationships as an adult?  Remember, these strategies purposely disconnect you from others.  They engage when you believe it necessary to separate and distance yourself from others so that your value, power and sense of self will remain intact and you will not be harmed. 
 
There are times in relationship when someone says, does something or behaves in a manner that causes you harm, actual or perceived.  It may be physical, emotional or abhorrent to your values.  The wound to your identity may undermine your physical prowess or diminish your value and worth, or your self-esteem, which creates a sense of weakness.  You counter this with power to reassert control and esteem.

Fight Mode is Boundaryless and Uncontained

​When you react with aggression and fight mode and do not contain your emotions, you are Boundaryless and Uncontained. You allow your hurt and fury to project onto the person you believe has hurt you or is not providing what you need and this pain may spill out onto others as well.  Manipulation is often used to gain “the upper hand” and increase your sense of control and power.  It can take the form of reacting with high drama to get what you want.  This can be through attacking, striking out physically or verbally, with unbridled expression of emotional volatility, stonewalling, or Gaslighting.   

Flight Mode is Walled Off and Contained

​When you react to wounding by withdrawing, you contain your emotions and shield yourself from harm.  You are Walled Off and Contained.  You regain control through removing your attention by either physically leaving a situation or by going inward, shutting down and going silent.  The warmth of reciprocating energy is no longer flowing.  An icy cold shield blocks any connection.  Where the light of your being once stood is now a frozen silence of emptiness. 

The Effect on Relationship being 1 Up and “Better Than”

​When both you and your partner are 1 Up, there will be an exchange that ramps-up with rapid intensity.  Both partners believe that they are “right” and feel justified in their strong stance.  It may begin with a comment from one partner that triggers the other into returning a defensive rebuke.  

1 Up Boundaryless meets 1 Up Boundaryless

​When both partners are 1 Up and Boundaryless, they gain power through conflict and force.  The tone of voices will become increasingly firmer, sharper, louder and harsher and the energy will become heated with anger as the conflict escalates.  Both may hurl nasty, abusive, damaging, mocking and threatening words to strike the other person down.  Gaslighting may be used to gain power.  Screaming, yelling, loudmouthed obnoxious behavior may ensue.  If the fight continues people may slam doors, throw objects, or become physical with their partner by pushing, slapping, hitting or using increasingly violent physical abuse.  The conflict can become highly volatile and dangerous.  

1 Up Boundaryless meets 1 Up Walled Off

​The above tactics and heated exchange from the 1 Up and Boundaryless partner will feel threatening and attacking to the 1 Up and Walled Off person.  The wound to the self-esteem of the Walled Off person shows up as a sense of hurt pride and it results in an air of arrogance as a defense to the feeling of diminishment.  “I don’t need you and I will not open myself up to you” is held in order to protect and forget the hurt.  A stubborn attitude puts up a wall shutting out the other.  “I am right, end of discussion. There is no need to discuss this further.” “You have insulted my dignity and therefore I have no time for you.”  The shutting out of the other has a cold heartless feeling to it.  There is a sense of righteousness in the withdrawal.  Puffing up and withdrawing feels good initially but underneath there are feelings of hurt, disgrace or shame.  The Wall of protection not only shuts out the “other” but also serves to shut out any painful deprecating feelings about oneself. 
 
Instead of outwardly confronting the person or situation, if you are Walled Off your hurt and anger will come out in passive aggressive ways such as digs and subtle insults, backhanded compliments, giving the “cold shoulder,” silencing, being grumpy or sullen and unexpressive.  You may ignore or stop doing joint tasks and responsibilities.  Suppression of feelings can be so complete that there is no realization of the suppressed anger or cold aggressive attitude being projected onto your partner.  At first, you may believe that you are taking care of yourself and your feelings by withdrawing or that you are centered and regulated and therefore “above” emotions, all of which advances your feelings of superiority.  In fact, you are actively suppressing your emotions and so become unaware of them.  You may know the effect distancing is having on your partner, but you do not care or you may even relish it. 

The Effect on Relationship being 1 Down and “Less Than”

1 Up meets 1 Down “Less Than” and Boundaryless

​The power and force of the 1 Up partner, whether they are Boundaryless or Walled Off, will have a severe diminishing effect on the 1 Down partner.  An extreme fear of abandonment and loss of relationship and connection arises from disapproval, nonacceptance, or rejection when you are 1 Down.  It does not matter if your partner is aggressive and Boundaryless or if they are Walled Off and withdrawing, the force of disappointment, displeasure and antagonism will be felt as a cutting pain carving out a piece of your sense of self.  The idea of the loss of connection or being alone is so abhorrent that you become exceedingly anxious.  Thoughts of loss and loneliness fill your mind resulting in ruminating on small actions or behaviors of your partner creating exaggerated stories and worst-case scenarios of their intentions or motivations all leading to the conclusion that you will be abandoned.  These devastating thoughts create panic engendering a strong need to gain acceptance and love.  It shows up as boundless neediness and obsessive clinginess.  With severe feelings of powerlessness and fear of loss of control so prominent regaining a sense of control becomes acute.
 
When you are 1 Down and Boundaryless you actively seek regard and acceptance from your partner to affirm that you exist.  There is a constant need for reassurance that your partner cares for and thinks about you.  Jealousy arises surrounding their time and connection with others and so policing their interactions with others and knowing their whereabouts seems logical.  You may nag or attack your partner with long pronouncements and “unbridled self expression” or have bouts of extreme emotional volatility.  All is in an effort to win your partner back, to be seen, to be accepted, and to know you exist so that you will not face your ultimate fear of being left and alone.

Meeting the Frozen Mode of 1 Down and Walled Off

When you are 1 Down and Walled Off you quickly lose hope of connection or relating to your partner and withdraw.  You resign.  When meeting a Boundaryless person, you often feel overwhelmed with their energy pushing or attacking you.  You easily feel smothered and violated.  You can stealthily retreat so fast that your partner is bewildered about your whereabouts.  “Time-outs” can last for days, weeks, months or an eternity.  You become ambivalent, distant and non-committal.  You are very sensitive to the energetic shield put up by another Walled Off partner.  Their oppressive righteous disregard for you sends you into a frozen state with no fight or flight left in you.  Retreating to your inner world and not confronting or retaliating is a way to gain safety and peace within.  A time period of solitude and hermitage can help you when you have an inner practice.  It may be religious, spiritual, inspirational or uplifting, as long as it connects you to an inner knowing of your True essence and esteem.  If you have feelings of victimhood, you may believe that there is no way out and doomed to despair and your already low self-esteem will plummet.  You may become severely depressed and suicidal.  If you are in this state, seeking support is absolutely vital in order to regain a sense of authentic power.  Connection is the way out.

Control is a Losing Strategy

​Whether you are attempting to control and attack another through spewing your anger and emotions onto them or through withdrawing, closing off and silencing them, you will find yourself in endless conflict and resentment.  These are overt and covert ways of manipulation to assert power and control.  In adult relationships, controlling others only works in the short-term.  It is a major Losing strategy.  Can you see why?  When you control another person, they don’t like it.  Really, they don’t.  It does not feel safe.  Being controlled invokes the sense of powerlessness in others.  It creates contempt, which will show up in various behaviors and responses that will always create distance and lack of trust.  Of course, they push away, fight, or retreat when your energy overpowers them.  If you retreat, they will either attempt to pull you back into relationship so as not to feel abandoned or meet your lack of care with resignation by also withdrawing.  Instead of moving to safety for both, there is a push-pull of control with one person in control and one person feeling a loss of control.  Whether the fight is Boundaryless and overt or Withdrawing and covert, there is a jockeying back and forth, which causes further distance and conflict.    
 
It is easy to see how both the strategy of aggressive unbounded physical or emotional volatility and the strategy of withdrawing and shutting down of your partner does not create trusting, caring, connected relationships. 

Returning to Healthy Authentic Self-Esteem

​Understanding your reactions when you feel powerless and being aware of your partner’s reactions when they feel powerless will help both of you to return to authentic power and esteem.  When you are not happy or having difficulty with your partner, be aware of your feelings of power and worth.  Are you feeling a loss of control?  Do you feel a sense of diminishment?  Be with the tension instead of reacting.  You may not be feeling confident.  Be humble.  See that the vulnerable parts of you are human.  There is no shame in being vulnerable.   The vulnerable parts of you are the ones that connect you to others.  

You can’t get to courage without walking through vulnerability.

   ~ Brené Brown

Move beyond the hold your ego has on you.  There is no need to be “above” anyone else.  There is no need to be “perfect.”  Everyone makes mistakes and life is filled with challenges.  No one can control everything.  Let go of trying to control other people or outside circumstances.  Notice your expectations and see how they create disappointment and limitation.  With acceptance and allowance, you have the ability to return to equanimity with healthy esteem for yourself.  From this place, you will enhance your ability to Skillfully Relate from a place of Kindness and Compassion. 

Check out the entire Relational Awareness Series

Returning Love and Harmony to Your Relationships: (Part1) Energizing the Love Bond

Relational Awareness: (Part 2) Mirroring Unresolved Wounds


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

When the Path Dries Up ll Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA

When the Path Dries Up
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

Why does it happen that sometimes one’s church/spiritual home/path doesn’t fit anymore? Self-blame is a first reaction when the path dries up: “What am I doing wrong? What do I need to do get things back to where they were?”

You work harder at whatever your spiritual practice is. You read more books, go to more conferences.

But in many cases, you’re just growing up and your chosen spiritual institution won’t let you.

I dwelt in the land of spiritual conundrums while living in Islamabad, Pakistan, about 20 years ago. In those days, English-speaking counselors were as rare as finding gold in my backyard, books ordered through the mail from the United States to Pakistan rarely arrived, and it would be years before Google answered questions.

Islamabad’s Our Lady of Fatima Church ministered to the Catholic population and had a library that carried English-language books. Although the French-speaking priest serving the oppressed Pakistani population had scarce time for what he saw as a privileged, white, middle-class American woman—and I understood this—he had limited time and limited resources—he didn’t forbid me the use of the Church library even though I was not a Catholic.

Hence I came upon, in Fatima’s dusty library of a select few English books, guarded by that stern, elderly French priest, God of Surprises, authored by Gerard W. Hughes (Note 1).

Catch the irony there?

And surprised I was, as Hughes nailed it for me.

Hughes draws his ideas from the writings of Friedrich Von Hügel, in his The Mystical Element in Religion.

Von Hügel develops his work from the three main stages of human development—infancy, adolescence, and adulthood—outlining the principal needs and activities which characterize each stage. He believes all religions must tend to and consider the needs and activities of each stage: an institutional element corresponding to infancy; a critical element corresponding to adolescence; and a mystical element corresponding to adulthood (Note 2).

Von Hügel says there is a constant threat that one element will be emphasized to the exclusion of the other two, or two will be stressed to the omission of the third, thus stifling the religious development of its adherents. Hughes writes from a Roman Catholic perspective, but extrapolates his findings to all Churches, whereas von Hügel says this is true for all religions.

While the needs and activities continue throughout each stage, they should cease to be predominant if we are to continue into the next stage of spiritual development.

Stage 1: Infancy, an Institutional Element

When I discovered Hughes, I had been immersed in Christian evangelicalism and was versed in its institutional tenants and moral imperatives. My journey into this faith began with my rejection of Roman Catholicism at the age of 13, continued into my late teens when I joined the Jesus Movement, and ended with non-denominational Protestantism in my early 20s.

Following von Hügel’s pattern, upon entering this religious vein—and coming from a Catholic background unfamiliar with Protestant dogma—this church versed me in the institutional element, my “baby” steps: “This is what we believe and why; this is how it is manifested in one’s life.” It’s like little children learning from their adult caretakers.

Stage 2: Adolescence, a Critical Element

But when I moved into an adolescent stage of my faith—just as in human development—I began my questing. Why, when Jesus said to the rich young ruler, “Give up all your wealth and follow me,” was that an unpreached sermon? Why do we so senselessly destroy God’s creation in our consumer-oriented society? Why do only men get to sit in the big chairs up on the altar? Why does this church only have men as elders and pastors? What is meant by the word “soul?”

And while I was a leader in my profession—I was elected president of the state chapter of a national construction association—I couldn’t be a leader in my church. Consequently, I had a disconnect between the male-centered, consumeristic teachings of the Church and my everyday experience. Women could lead governments but couldn’t lead in the church. Christ led a life where “he had no place to lay his head” but that wasn’t modeled by Church leaders.

Hughes says that,

“A Church isolated from our human experience can only survive as long as it can succeed in forbidding its adherents to ask questions and think for themselves. It must lay heavy emphasis on the importance of obedience to religious authority, obedience being understood as unquestioning acceptance of whatever is presented by the teaching authority, and by making it sinful for its members to criticize, or to read or listen to anyone who may propose any contrary teaching (emphasis added) …. If the critical element is not fostered, Christians will remain infantile in their religious belief and practice, which will have little or no relation to everyday life and behavior” (page 17).

Around the topic of women in leadership, the Church leaders barely tolerated my questioning. I was told that I had to “speak nicer if I wanted the [all-male] church leaders to listen to me”—which I never did achieve. The counseling pastor called me “ornery”—i.e., “ugly and unpleasant”—as he shooed me out of his office (Note 3). He expected a Stage 1 response from me: “…unquestioning acceptance of whatever is presented by the teaching authority,” making it “sinful” for me to criticize or question the teaching authority. Time ran out for any further discussions with this pastor; I was returning to Pakistan. Although not familiar with Hughes’ book at that time, I did have enough sense to withdraw my membership.

But reading Hughes later on handed me an “ah-ha!!” moment, the lightning bolt hit: My church had fostered an infantile spirituality. And in the process, it became irrelevant to my everyday life.

And as von Hügel says, all religions have this tendency. While living in Indonesia, the stricter Islamic clerics issued a fatwa (religious edict) forbidding all Indonesian Muslims from practicing yoga, saying it would lead them astray from their true faith (Note 4).

Stage 3: Adulthood, a Mystical Element

By the time I discovered Hughes, I had been a global citizen for years, living and working alongside people from all religions, cultures, and countries. I encountered life’s mysteries in myself and in my world, primarily through suffering. My suppressed inner life bubbled out all over. I related to earthquakes, volcanoes, and tsunamis. I had spent years dwelling in John of the Cross’ via negative, the way of darkness, and following and knowing the Divine in that darkness. Through quantum mechanics, I became aware of an interconnected world, one with potentialities and possibilities—at least at a subatomic level, and no one knows how that plays itself out on a macro level.

Life was full of enigmas and mysteries within myself, others, and in the cosmos. I studied models and metaphors of God, how God is referred to Biblically as a mother hen, a suffering servant, a woman looking for a lost coin. But I’d walk into Churches and hear the Divine spoken of with certainty and exclusively as “He, Father, King, and Lord,” and “this is what He wants you to do.” I’d cringe at this idolatry and make good my escape.

And what is “mystical?” I’ll discuss that further in next month’s blog, but suffice it to say it includes vision, gazing, and attention to our inner lives.

If we go down into ourselves, we find that we possess exactly what we desire.

Simone Weil, French philosopher, mystic, political activist and author

In adulthood, if we allow ourselves, scary stuff can arise from within, from “an examined life.” What arises doesn’t fit into a tidy, enclosed, and infantile institutional box. But this inner space is where we encounter our deepest selves, this is where we connect to and unite with Ultimate Reality/Divinity, however we define it. We welcome our inner life into our consciousness. People House believes that, “Developing our ability to be conscious is the key to an increasingly meaningful life.”

Based on von Hügel’s analysis, what has been your own experience of a spiritual institution? Has any one or two elements dominated to the omission of the other one? Does it help you understand how hostilities and divisions develop between various institutions?


Notes & Sources:

1.) Hughes, Gerard W. God of Surprises. Darton, Longman, and Todd Ltd. London. 1985.

2.) Note these are MAIN stages; these three stages are broken down by various human development experts into further categories.

3.) I found out many years later from an elder serving at that time that the male church leaders had assigned one of its pastors to scholarly research the role of women in the church. This pastor concluded, that from a Biblical point of view, evidence supported both sides: installing women as church leaders and not installing women as church leaders. The male leadership decided to maintain the status quo of no women in church leadership. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said: “The truth is that male religious leaders have had–and still have—an option to interpret holy teachings either to exalt or subjugate women. They have, for their own selfish ends, overwhelmingly chosen the latter” (emphasis added). I was so deceived; I thought these leaders were truth seekers!

4.) http://content.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1874651,00.html


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.

 

 

Relational Awareness (Part 2) Mirroring Unresolved Wounds ll Dorothy Wallis

Relational Awareness (Part 2)
Mirroring Unresolved Wounds
By Dorothy Wallis

 Make sure you read Part 1!

Did a ray of sunlight enter your life and suddenly a radiant being appeared in your midst that invoked a magnetic pull?  What attracted you to your partner in the first place?  Did she have a smile that melted you?  Did his enthusiasm and playful nature capture your desire for freedom and fun?  Did you admire his or her humor, assertiveness, confidence, or intellect?  Did she or he possess a savvy adventurous spirit?  Did you share similar interests or concordant life paths?  Perhaps it was charm and kindness that felt like a comforting hug.  Did you feel safe?  Maybe you experienced your partner intently absorbed and interested in you.  It felt so special.  To be truly seen fulfills a longing to be known.  

Knowing we are accepted just as we are gives us a sense of deep belonging.

Initially, attraction is coupled with the external qualities of a person including their physical appearance, their lifestyle, job, interests or demeanor.  At the same time, there is the indescribable euphoric attraction called “chemistry.”  You fall into a magical wonderland of being “In Love.”  You are on “Cloud 9” and literally may not touch the ground for a while.  The gravity of the biological magnetism invites you to move past the outer characteristics and behaviors and to move into relationship.  At around six to eighteen months, the intensity of the infatuation diminishes.  No longer blinded by overwhelming attraction and desire, you begin to see other parts of this person.  Underneath the allure are many internal layers of deep discoveries to mine.  Relationship is more than cohabitating together to provide you with the means to survive and procreate; it is actually a journey into the richness of finding the deeper truth of who you are.

Does that peak your curiosity?  The timber and tone of your voice, your behaviors, your values, attitudes and moods, how you handle change, crisis, emotions, and how you respond or react to every part of life is mirrored back to you through relationship with “another.”  The mirror reflects their response to your energy, how it is received and how it impacts them.  Your kindest most benevolent qualities as well as the gritty gnarly rough bits are seen.  You may have been unaware of disagreeable or undesirable traits within yourself.  You may not have acknowledged parts of yourself that push away relationship rather than attract connection.

Magnetic Attraction to Heal

An even stronger energetic attraction than the sexual or outer physical characteristics has been engaged from the start.  There is a familiarity about this person that is captivating.  There may be aspects of your partner that remind you of your parents, caregivers or someone that had a major influence on your upbringing.  Harville Hendrix coined the term, Imago, which is a Latin word describing our unconscious attraction to a composite image of what we perceive constitutes love.  It includes both the positive and negative qualities of our caregivers.  The Imago is the energetic signature or blueprint that magnetically pulls you toward a romantic partner.  Unconsciously, you look for your “Imago Match” in order to heal your childhood wounds.

No person goes unscathed in life.  Whatever dysfunctions occurred in the households of your childhood and adolescent years had an impact on you.  Your partner will enact aspects that “trigger” the unhealed or unresolved parts of you, which brings them to the forefront.  Relationship invites you to heal the childhood attachment and developmental wounds that keep you from wholeness.  You can no longer hide or keep hidden the sacred wounds of the past.  They pop up whenever there is a similarity between something in the present and something that was hurtful from the past.

Yikes…you thought you were free of past wounds and here you face them again.  Your task is to heal these wounds through learning how to have a different response, owning your “stuff,” regaining the truth within you, and integrating the past so that it no longer has a hold on you.  In other words, freedom is found through personal growth and learning how to be relational.

Myth:  Partnership and relationship will give me the Unconditional Love that I never received, which will heal me.   Grip Yourself….

The Truth is that you will not receive Unconditional Love from Your

Partner, nor will You Give it.

 Power Struggle

You merrily go into relationship with an unconscious belief that this person will give you what you missed growing up.  You have found the person that will understand you, give you security, support you, accept you, share with you and basically give you the unconditional love you crave.  It is a fantasy to think that unconditional love occurs in adult relationships.  How shocking when your partner jabs you with the same dysfunctional stuff that you experienced growing up.  Once again you find yourself with someone criticizing you, neglecting you, dismissing or invalidating you, being unsupportive, or being irresponsible, or withholding, withdrawing, abandoning, or perhaps venting their anger and frustrations on you, or having addictions.  The list goes on.  Whatever touches your deepest vulnerabilities and sensitivities will show up in the characteristics and behaviors of your partner.  Suddenly, you are in a power struggle with your partner and the experience of being wounded all over again.

Your Partner does not know all of Your Wounds and neither do You. 

They will Inadvertently Activate those Parts of You that need to be Healed.

 When you were a child, you were dependent on your parents or caretakers.   You had to cope with painful situations the best that you could.  As much as those coping strategies helped you get through those times, in its wake you were left with wounds to your heart. These are your unresolved issues that surface in relationship.  You may have experienced feelings of powerlessness.  A parent’s job is to unconditionally love their child.  Yet, no parent can do this perfectly.  In essence, your desire is to be re-parented to receive unconditional love and your partner has this underlying desire as well.  Yet, you are not in relationship to parent your partner, nor is he or she there to parent you.  Your love is conditional.  Think about it.  Will you stay in a relationship under any circumstance?  Will you stay if you are abused or your children are harmed?  You have “conditions” which are important for your safety, your values and integrity, and for your personal growth.

Your Relationship is a Crucible for Growth

 The “Love Bond” (in Relationships Part 1) can be a container for your growth as well as your partners.  Honoring and having reverence for your relationship as a living structure for Healing and Growth changes your perspective.  When both of you agree to value the life of your relationship, you agree to be willing to touch the pain you hold and support your partner in their pain.

Being Present to Disharmony

When there is disharmony, be aware of the potential for growth individually and for the relationship.  This is an opportunity to not only repair but to heal.  One or both of you may be experiencing a disruption.  Instead of ignoring the disturbance, you move towards the pain.  Is your partner upset?  Are you upset?  Be aware of what your first natural reaction or response is when you are triggered.  This is known as your “First Consciousness.”

First Consciousness

Your limbic system energizes when it senses threat.  A disturbance in the harmony of your relationship will activate your defenses, which is your “first consciousness.”  In what way do you defend or protect yourself when you are “triggered?”  Do you get angry and attack your partner with blame, shame, verbal abuse or physically threaten them?  Do you believe it is your partner’s entire problem and so you do not take responsibility for your part?  Do you defend yourself by explaining your intention(s) without acknowledging the pain your partner is experiencing, which does nothing to assuage their hurt?  Do you silence and withdraw?  Do you run away?  Do you counter their thoughts and feelings by dismissing them as not valid or wrong?  Do you sulk, stonewall, or become a victim?  Since all of these reactions are defensive, they push your partner away, nothing is resolved, and you have not dealt with your own uncomfortable feelings and pain.

Looking in the Mirror

What is your pattern when you are embroiled in an emotional trigger?  It may be different with acquaintances and friends than with your partner.  You may not project anger or walk-out on your friends or at your job but you may spew your anger or walk out on your partner.  This shadow part of you arises because you allow yourself to shut out your partner, who is familiar and known and unconsciously reminds you of the one(s) that wounded you in the past.

Your psyche reacts from the impulse to protect and defend using non-relational adaptive strategies of the ego.  Unfortunately, defense only escalates disconnection and is not concerned with repair.  The mirror your partner holds up is a powerful and very useful aspect to show you the behavioral stance you use to protect yourself.  Terrence Real brought forward four basic patterns of behaviors that your ego uses to defend and protect.  The ego will either use power and control to “puff up” and feel Better than others, 1 Up, or contract and diminish and go, 1 Down, to be Less than others.  It also defends by either not containing afflictive energy, which is a form of attack, or will retreat in containment and disconnection.  Notice which of these stances most often emerges when there is conflict in your relationships.

The 4 basic Patterns of Non-Relational Behavioral Stances

1 Up and Boundaryless and Uncontained: 1 Up is the sense of being Better Than and above another person.  It exemplifies a grandiose, superior stance.  You see your partner as less than you in some way.  Being boundaryless, you control the situation in order to defend and protect yourself.  You do not contain your emotions; you project onto others often with anger.  You may nag, vent, blame, shame, be verbally and emotionally abusive, shout, rage, or have uncontrolled outbursts.  You may be narcissistic and entitled.  You may become physically abusive.
2 Up and Walled Off and Contained:  1 Up is the sense of being Better Than and above another person.  You feel a sense of righteousness and superiority.  You contain your emotions by being indifferent to your partner.  They are not worth your attention.  You feel contempt and Wall yourself off from them and are Love Avoidant.  You disconnect, retreat and withdraw even if you are in the same room.  You may silence the other and punish them by not connecting.  You may be mean spirited and passive aggressive.
3 Down and Boundaryless and Uncontained: 1 Down is the sense of being Less Than. You see yourself as a victim.  You are hungry for affection, which may show up as insatiable neediness.  You do not like being alone and will cling to your partner.  You are Love dependent/addicted with a fear of being rejected.   Insecurity, helplessness, dependence and desperation are hallmarks of this stance.  You may use seduction and manipulation to get what you want.
4 Down and Boundaryless and Contained: 1 Down is the sense of being Less Than.  You withdraw from life and contain your emotions.  You feel small with no energy.  You are downtrodden with depression, resignation, and futility.  “Why bother?”  You feel defeated with no “fight left” or energy to express your thoughts, emotions or to take any action.  You retract inside yourself and may be suicidal.

When you find yourself behaving in any of these ways, know that this is a reaction to pain.  You are feeling emotionally hurt.  Your self-esteem has taken a hit.  Ask: What is underneath the surface pain?  What is it mirroring for you?  Notice if you ruminate or cannot let go of the disturbance.  If your reaction is extreme then it can be a clue that the hurt is more than the present interaction and is catalyzing a deeper wound.

Awareness is your friend.  Knowing your pattern of reaction when you are triggered is the first step in being able to come back to a healthy state of consciousness.  When you find yourself in a non-relational behavioral stance be aware, breathe, and wait until you feel calm and centered before communicating with your partner.

Holding up the Mirror to yourself reveals the truth of your pain.  When you push away or disconnect from your partner, you are literally disconnecting from your own discomfort and pain.  This may sound great but it never works to resolve the inner wounds and it keeps you from having healthy, loving relationships.  Compassionately connect with the truth of your hurt and from this place you will find relief.  Discovering the core of what ails you and reconnecting with yourself allows you to move towards connection with your partner.  Remember that shining light when you first met your partner?   That ray of sunlight was for you all along to shine a light on your wounds releasing the old hurts of the past and when you do, you connect with yourself and Open to Love. 

 


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Lughnasadh: Harmonizing with Mother ll Rev. Mary Coday Edwards

August 1, 2018
Lughnasadh: Harmonizing with Mother
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

“Where are all the elephant carcasses?” wondered mystified conservationists managing Sri Lanka’s coastal wildlife preserves.

The 9.1 magnitude undersea earthquake of December 26, 2004, set off a series of tsunamis along the coasts of countries bordering the Indian Ocean. About 280,000 people died or went missing in 14 countries, and waves up to 100 feet high swamped coastal communities. Indonesia was hit the hardest, following by Sri Lanka, India, and Thailand.

I was living in Jakarta, Indonesia, at the time, along with my husband and 15-year-old son. The epicenter was off the coast of Aceh, Sumatra, one of Indonesia’s sprawling archipelago of 17,000 islands, located 1,500 miles northwest of Jakarta. It’s estimated that up to 220,000 Indonesians lost their lives or went missing.

Like the seas, my soul roiled in anger at this revelation of fleeing animals: Anger at how clouded humanity’s mind has become. Anger at how we’ve bathed ourselves in hubris, so confident in humanity’s ability to rise above nature, to conquer it, to force it to our will. Anger for all the tied up and penned in domesticated animals who panicked with fear and couldn’t flee. Anger at our leaders: the scientists, monotheistic religious leaders, economists, politicians, and educators who shame indigenous groups who practice a different form of spirituality, those who still have eyes to see Divinity in nature (note 1).

And anger at how we talk about “dumb animals”, meaning of course, anything who isn’t of the human species. But yet who went running out into the receding seas, gathering up “God’s abundance” in the millions of stranded and flopping fish, only to then be swept out to their watery graves by the next 50-foot wave? It wasn’t the flamingos, they had long ago flew the coop to higher trees.

It was humanity.

Not the smartest beasts in the room

Survivors spoke of how their dogs refused their routine morning walks on the beach, and how elephants trumpeted in fear when their handlers pushed them toward the dangerous beaches.

The tsunamis hit after the earthquake. In Aceh, humans had 15-20 minutes to grow in awareness. The “dumb animals” sensed the change and responded. And, OK, so we’ve lost our sense of interconnection with our planet and its energies, but at least we could have recognized we weren’t the smartest beasts in the room.

Fortunately, lone human voices still cry out in the wilderness, brave souls willing to buck the status quo. Sensitive to their own needs for interconnection with forces greater than our accepted religious, cultural, and political institutions, these creative and courageous individuals still cry out, “Wait! The Emperor has no clothes on!”

Terryl Warnock joins those voices in her book, Miracle du jour, inspiring her readers to become a part of the enchanted world rather than a part from it (note 2).

Lughnasadh: It’s all about the light

The Northern Hemisphere harvest calendar traditionally places Lughnasadh (pronounced loo-na-sa) on August 1 or 2. But Terryl, grown sensitive to the energies present in nature around her, celebrates the sacred day by an easily missed and subtle seasonal change.

“Lugh is the god of light, skilled in all the arts, and taken as sacred from ancient Celtic religious traditions by contemporary pagans. It’s all about the light,” she says.

Terryl, a contemporary, solitary pagan/witch, celebrates “Lughnasadh when the light of the high summer sun—acute, blue-white, and unforgiving—first blunts itself, ever so slightly, against the oncoming fall season. The light of day begins to soften. The punishing Summer Solstice warrior sun begins to age and mellow a little. The Great Goddess, His mate, is heavy and gravid, brought to term and ready to be delivered of Her abundance. The goldening of the light brings with it feelings of plenty and satisfaction.

“Lughnasadh is the first of three autumn harvest festivals for pagan folk. It tends to be a particularly light-hearted celebration, even by the standards of today’s conspicuously light-hearted pagan religious observances. It is harvest, but it is first harvest, skimming the cream and taking the first cutting.

“Lughnasadh feels like the last, sacred summer weekend to goof off. The capital-H Harvest draws nigh and as the days get shorter and the light more golden, the heavier work of Harvest approaches. Although few of us now live in cadence with the agricultural cycle, fall is still a busy time of year for most: the kids have to get back to school, houses and vehicles must be winterized, there’s canning and filling the freezer to be done and, of course, the holiday season is now unavoidably out there on the horizon. It’s time to start getting in and putting by for winter but, for this blessed moment of first awareness it’s still summer, and still too hot to work very hard. In ancient times people harvested the first cutting at this time and baked special braided loaves of bread with it to celebrate. In this spirit Lughnasadh is also known as Lammas, festival of loaves, and witches more poetic than I have called this sacred time ‘yeasty’ (note 3).

“But I am yeast-impaired in this lifetime. You could build a house with my loaves. So the ritual meal for my Lughnasadh celebration is a stew of freshly-harvested and roasted green chili with homemade tortillas.

“Traditional Lughnasadh celebrations also involve weaving corn and wheat into Goddess symbols, such as dollies, little corn dolls made out of husks and tied with wheat stalks. It is also a time to be exuberantly physical. We can feel the arc of the zenith. We are ‘unbearably animated’ in our bodies as in our lives, as we hike a mountain or take a nice, long bike ride (note 4). The funereal aspect of Lughnasadh is the knowledge, for certain now, that these glorious long summer days are numbered as the sun god marches inexorably to His inevitable winter death and resurrection.

“My father, who was more pagan than he knew, always started saying ‘we’d best get to work on our wood pile for the winter’ at about this time of year. It was too hot to do the seriously heavy work of wood gathering, though, so we’d take a family picnic to go scouting, as he called it. We’d break a couple of hatchet handles trying to throw them and stick them in stumps, plink a few tin cans with the .22 (cleaning up the woods scrounging trash for our targets), and see who could get to the top of the ridge first to get the best vantage. As a token effort, we’d chunk a piece of firewood or three in the bed of the truck. We were out there to play and to enjoy life for its own sake.

“Harvest, even detached from agricultural cycles, offers all of us the opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the bounty in our lives. It is a time to feel our riches, to enjoy them, to celebrate where and how our lives are whole, to look at what we have, rather than to yearn after what we lack,” concluded Terryl.

The stream of life that dances in rhythmic measures

The same stream of life that runs through my veins night and day
runs through the world and dances in rhythmic measures.
It the same life that shoots in joy through the dust of the earth
in numberless blades of grass and breaks into tumultuous waves of leaves and flowers.
It is the same life that is rocked in the ocean-cradle of birth and
of death, in ebb and flow.
I feel my limbs are made glorious by the touch of this world of life.
And my pride is from the life-throb of ages dancing in my blood this morning (note 5).

These days, I’m not near so angry, but sorrowful. I mourn the loss of species, fauna and flora, as well as humanity’s loss of intuitive ecological interconnectedness. We’re reaping what we’ve sown. We pump a stream of violence into our culture as we poison our land, our waterways, and our air. Our bodies then carry this violence within them as we commit violence against each other.

But we can return. Mindfulness practices can move us into an awareness of that stream of life surging through Mother Nature. We become conscious of the rhythms of life, of that powerful energy that drove the elephants up to the hills.

This Lughnasadh, watch for that “subtle change in light.”

And to my friends in the Southern Hemisphere—Happy Imbolc!

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) I am simplistically dividing spirituality into two groups: those whose view of god emphasizes the immanence of divinity—the closeness of divinity that is within creation—vs. the transcendent idea, which emphasizes divinity outside of humanity, watching over us. Again, our cultural institutions push us into an untenable either/or position, when in reality, it’s and/both. For example, I feel a deep, intuitive connection with the natural world. This same energy/spirit flows through the universe, and so I intuit my connection with all that is and I know that at a deep level within my soul.

2.) Terryl Warnock, author of The Miracle du jour, MoonLit Press, LLC. Published Summer Solstice 2017. For more on Terryl, see my June blog

3.) https://marcietelander.wordpress.com/2012/08/01/celebrating-the-very-first-harvest-and-lughnasad/

4.) Spirits of the Sacred Grove: The World of a Druid Priestess. Emma Restall Orr writes that the Summer Solstice has deepened our understanding of power and how we might access it. The cross-quarter day of Lughnasadh, between high summer and the red skies of autumn, asks what we will do with it.

5.) Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali, No. 69

_______

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.

Feminism: A Witch Honors the Summer Solstice ll Rev. Mary Coday Edwards

June 21, 2018
Feminism: A Witch Honors the Summer Solstice
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

 

Rape at the age of 19 flung Terryl far from the Faith of our Fathers and straight into the loving arms of the Great Goddess: Mother Nature, God, herself (Note 1).   

“Here’s a nation which calls itself Christian,” she decided at that time, “while its patriarchal God devalues women so much it allows a culture of rape.”

She abandoned all things masculine—except her own earthly father.

“My dad was a feminist, but he never would have used that word,” said Terryl. “My parents were wonderful, and taught me and my sister that there was no wrong way to God. My mom had been sexually abused as a child, and growing up she took sanctuary in the high ritual of the Catholic Church.

“However, there was no dogma in our religious education. If mom thought my sister and I needed a strong talking to, it was off to the Baptist Church for some fire and brimstone. If she thought we needed challenged intellectually, we’d head to the Congregational Church. And if dad planned a trip out into the forest, well, that was church also.”

After the rape, Terryl found succor exclusively through Nature’s Sacred Feminine, turning to Contemporary Paganism (Note 2). Ten years later, while cleaning windows and still nursing her anger, misery, and fear against the patriarchy, “I got it. I could see out from my misery that I was wallowing in my pain. While becoming a victim was not of my doing, remaining one was. I was sick of my own whining.”

It took her another ten years to realize that the patriarchy injures men as well. 

“Nature’s about balance,” she said, and so her eyes had to open to Nature’s Sacred Masculine. In her book The Miracle du jour, she explains how that yellow pollen falling off pine trees in the spring is masculine, carried off from those tiny pine cones by the wind to fertilize the larger female cones.

And thus Contemporary Paganism reflects Nature, in that it’s not a “woman’s culture. It balances male and female energy. Its two primary branches of Wiccan and Druidism attract both men and women.”

“This is the solstice, the still point of the sun, its cusp and midnight, the year’s threshold and unlocking, where the past lets go of and becomes the future; the place of caught breath.”   Margaret Atwood

Summer solstice in the northern hemisphere varies between June 20 and 22 as it’s based on when the sun is at its northernmost point in the sky; this year it’s June 21. Picking the happy middle, World Humanist Day is celebrated annually on June 21. Contemporary Pagans still gather at Stonehenge to watch the rising sun shine on the central altar, the one day a year when the sun reaches the middle of the Stonehenge circle (Note 3).

It’s the longest day of the year, and personally I feel myself sadden a bit as I watch the sun pause in my backyard over the pine trees before it reverses itself and begins its return journey south and to shorter days.

I am no longer a victim of rape.

A Solitary Pagan, Terryl says that, “The waxing and waning of the seasons can help us manifest positive changes in our lives. The powers of Nature peak at the Summer Solstice. We can Cast those influences we would like to change or rid ourselves of into the blazing power of summer to diminish with the sun as it wanes.

“Summer Solstice is the time to prepare your bed, amend the soil and dig a hole in your life in which to plant the seeds of positivity at the Winter Solstice.

“I Cast the negativity rape brought to my life—the rage and fear—into Summer Solstice and let the waning sun take it from me. Into the Winter Solstice I Cast the seeds of what I want that powerful experience to be transformed into, seeds that grow with the waxing of the sun.

“Rape is what gave me my feminism, my religion, and the backbone it takes for all women to remain sane, kind, and productive in a world shaped by patriarchy. I am no longer a victim of rape.

“Cast your fears and anger into the Summer Solstice to wane with the sun. Cast your hopes and dreams into the Winter Solstice to grow with the light. Cast all you cast with a happy heart and a prayer to harm none. Vengeance doesn’t help or heal anything or anyone.”

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) Personal interview June 8, 2018, with writer Terryl Warnock, author of The Miracle du jour, MoonLit Press, LLC. Published Summer Solstice 2017.

2.) “Modern Paganism, also known as Contemporary Paganism and Neopaganism, is a collective term for new religious movements influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe, North Africa and the Near East. Although they do share similarities, contemporary Pagan religious movements are diverse, and no single set of beliefs, practices or texts are shared by them all.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Modern_Paganism

3.) Resources abound on the web regarding contemporary and ancient traditions commemorating the summer solstice, as well as its near neighbor, Midsummer, celebrated June 24. These sources include http://www.religioustolerance.org/summer-solstice-2.htm, https://www.astrostar.com/Understanding-Summer-Solstice.htm, https://simoncross.wordpress.com/2014/06/19/why-christians-should-celebrate-the-summer-solstice/, https://www.almanac.com/content/first-day-summer-summer-solstice

_______

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

On Anthony Bourdain and the Mask of Masculinity ll Rich Brodt

On Anthony Bourdain and the Mask of Masculinity 
By: Rich Brodt

I don’t often ruminate on celebrities passing away. However, this week Anthony Bourdain took his own life. This shocked me and also didn’t shock me. I have been watching his television series’ for the past fifteen years or so. In his earlier work, he was wild, energetic, and probed deep into the cultures he explored. This often involved the consumption of more than a healthy amount of alcohol. Visibly intoxicated on camera, Anthony would wax philosophical, and it became clear to me that his mind was capable of going to some very dark places – this fact has always remained obvious in his humor.

            After those early years, he gained traction and seemed to have more creative control over his programming. He clearly had an eye for cinematography, music and making the viewer feel something visceral. He had a gift that became clear to many, and if one watched from his earlier years he clearly progressed as a person, and seemed to mature, his views softening as he talked about raising his daughter. It looked as though he had dealt with his demons. He avidly studied and trained jiu jitsu, and seemed to get his health issues in order as well.

            Then, on location in France, while in the middle of filming a new episode of his show with one of his closest friends, Eric Ripert, it is reported that he hung himself. This close friend, it is also reported, was the one who had to find him unresponsive that morning. Anthony Bourdain is a man who seemed to have a whole lot going for him. He had a continued spot as a host on an award winning program, and was receiving his paycheck for traveling the world, connecting with people and eating interesting food.

From an outside perspective, many would think of that life as a dream come true. Obviously, it wasn’t.

            The suicide rate in American has been creeping up since the last 1990s. Though woman attempt suicide twice as often, men are 3.5 times more likely to complete a suicide. And white men make up far more than half of all completed suicides in America.

We should be shocked when we read these numbers.

            Looking at the statistics, more of us should be asking why men, and white men in particular, are committing suicide at such high rates. And as I’ve been trying to make sense of Anthony Bourdain’s death, I wondered what role masculinity plays in these suicide rates. In my practice, young men in there 20s and 30s make up a relatively large portion of my clientele. For the most part, if I am their first therapist, they report never having been given the time and space to express themselves in a vulnerable manner. The longer they wait, the harder it is to get them to open up – some resist for months or years. When I ask what the benefit of withholding their emotions has been, most seem stunned to learn that it hasn’t benefited them. Rather, they have seen their relationships dissolve as a result of their lack of emotional awareness.

Instead, most of these men wore masks.

             They had different masks for different people, all of which concealed the pain they were dealing with in their personal lives. They report not wanting to burden others with their emotions, not feeling safe discussing emotions with their partners, receiving messages early on in life that expressing emotion was not OK. This leads to a man who does not know himself. A man who does not know himself has a difficult time finding something in himself that it worth saving.

            So maybe there is some value in this death. Maybe more men can open their eyes to the fact that suffering is not uncommon – that it is OK to admit that one feels pain, and that there is help out there for those willing to seek it, that life can be rich and full of expression. In the end, I don’t know what drove Anthony Bourdain to take his own life, but I do know that he had people around him that would have been willing to help if he asked.

The fact that he didn’t is a tragedy.


Rich Brodt is a former intern at People House, and is currently a co-owner and private practitioner at Elevated Counseling, PLLC in the Highlands area of Denver. Prior to training to become a therapist, Rich practiced as a mental health litigation attorney in New York City, where he first became passionate about the field. Rich draws on knowledge of law, philosophy and poetry, bringing a unique perspective to his sessions. 

Rich’s current practice utilizes a client-centered approach, integrating Gestalt, existential and depth approaches. He focuses his practice trauma and anxiety-related issues, including PTSD, high-stress careers, life transitions and other major stressors. Rich’s first priority in counseling is to create a safe, non-judgmental space, where clients can feel comfortable sharing and processing their most difficult thoughts. 

 

Elevated Counseling, PLLC
2727 Bryant Street Suite 550
Denver, CO 80211
ElevatedCounseling.org
Ph: (720) 295-1352

Why We Always Need Teachers, Gurus And Masters ll Lora Cheadle

Why We Always Need Teachers, Gurus and Masters, No Matter How Much of an Expert We Are
By: Lora Cheadle

Maybe you are like me. Maybe you are an expert at certain things, because you have done them for a long time, and because you are passionate about them. But did you know that even experts need teachers, gurus or masters to inspire them and help them grow? No matter how good we are at things, we always need someone there to guide or mentor us, so we can continue to evolve. Why? Because it’s easy for us as humans to get stuck in a rut, even without realizing that we are stuck!

And when we get stuck, our brains get stuck too, hardening into habits, beliefs and attitudes that may not serve us as the world around us continues to evolve.

You Can Teach and Old Dog New Tricks – But Without Practice, It’s Hard! (Literally)

The human brain is very adaptable. In infancy and childhood the brain is very malleable, and learning and assimilating new information is easy to do. As we age, our brains become more fixed, and change becomes more difficult. But this does not mean that change is impossible! This simply means that we need to make more of an effort to seek out opportunities for learning, opportunities for growth and expansion, in order to keep our brains functioning at their prime.

The brain is like a computer. The connections (thoughts, patterns, beliefs, habits) we use often, are stronger than the connections we use infrequently. This is why habits that we’ve had for decades are much harder to break than habits we’ve only recently acquired. When we are young, very few habits and patterns and connections have been set. When we are in school, learning sports, music, language, our brains are constantly being re-wired, challenged and re-arranged. So, like play-dough, our brains are shaped and reshaped again.

Once we settle down in our lives, we truly do begin to settle. We leave school, we leave some of our childhood hobbies behind because we have work or family obligations, we become good at our job, our relationships become set, and so does our brain. Like play-dough left out for too long without being manipulated, our brains begin to harden and form. Which can be good. Until it isn’t.

Unlike our hardened brains, the world continues to evolve. Technology changes, rules change, relationships change, children grow, parents age, and jobs are lost. Suddenly, we realize that we too need to adapt. But when we try to learn, we realize how hard it is! And we get frustrated and we want to quit!

But instead of quitting, all we need to do is add water and stir!

How Having a Teacher, Guru or Master Helps Us Adapt

No, our brains aren’t really hardened! With a little water and a little mixing, we can once again make our brains as malleable as they were when we were young. Keeping our brains flexible allows us to learn, grow, change and adapt to our circumstances at any age. How do we do this? Through working with a teacher, guru or master. Working with others keeps us fresh, keeps our brains soft and moldable and keeps us in the habit of learning, so whenever we are called upon to adapt; we can.

Whether it’s a teacher, who can teach us something that we don’t know, a guru who can walk us along a path that they themselves have walked, or a master, who can push us to a different level of understanding or skill, continuing to learn throughout our whole lives is vitally important. Not only because it’s fun to learn and expand, but because it helps us in the long run. Working with others allows us to continue to challenge ourselves, it creates new connections in our brains, and it keeps us flexible and easily adaptable. Working with others is like sprinkling water on our paly-dough. Which is a smart thing to do.

Because the world continues to change. And we need to be able to change with it. Comfortably.

Returning Love and Harmony to Your Relationships, Part 1 ll Dorothy Wallis

Returning Love and Harmony to Your Relationships
Part 1: Energizing the Love Bond
By Dorothy Wallis

     Typically, when couples enter counseling, they have built up a pressure cooker of issues that have created an atmosphere of resentment and distrust resulting in blame, misunderstanding, and unhappiness. Energetically, their wounded heart is stuck in a cesspool of hurt, anger and despair.  It is difficult to see a way out yet usually at least one of them has a hope that things can improve.

     It is common to look at your partner as the source of the problem.  “If only you would change, everything would be alright.” People often bring their partner into counseling believing that the therapist will help their partner “see the light” and change.  Placing the burden of discord on your partner is a recipe for disappointment.  Growth is an internal and complex process that is part of each one’s development and soul’s journey.  Transforming a relationship back into harmony is a dual responsibility.  Each person brings their signature of energies and blends them with their partner to form an interconnected synergy that is the blueprint of their relationship.  Within this alchemical union each person is responsible for their own choices and behavior.  Movement in the relationship occurs when one person becomes aware and conscious of how their energy contributes to the disharmony, re-establishes a caring presence and releases the old paradigm while opening to new possibilities.

     Every relationship is a joining of character styles and personalities that create a unique dynamic.  When two people interact their similarities are highlighted and feel good endorphins flow.  Initially, when you fall in love you are showered with a rush of positive emotions, which dampens noticing the problematic and annoying differences.  The differences that you do notice are often experienced as endearing, interesting, and curiously attractive.  These same differences may “rear up” later as annoying, offensive, repulsive, and even harmful as the “blinded by love” initial fantasy stage subsides.

Relationship Dynamic

     These troublesome differences can activate the part of the ego that protects and defends your safety, values, integrity, identity, ways of being and doing things.  Another way to say it is, you are “triggered.”  A relationship is a dynamic system and every relationship goes through periods of harmony and disharmony.  This dynamic is “a force that stimulates change or progress within a system or process.”  The change that is stimulated can produce growth or not.  Relationships offer a “fast track” opportunity to observe your ego in action.  The drama of tussling in tandem with your partner or loved one ignites your childhood wounds bringing them to the surface to be seen and resolved.  The challenges and discord in relationship are opportunities for growth promoting resilience, development of maturity, expanding consciousness and strengthening the bonds of love. 

Just as in any other part of life, there is a natural ebb and flow of amicability and disruption.

     In a relationship, the dynamic of discord is characterized by the stance or force each individual supplies when their ego is activated.  When these forces are pushing against one another it creates an escalation of conflict.  You are in a battle with one another.  This battle has nothing to do with resolving the conflict or finding a solution.  It can leave you embittered, resentful, angry, hurt, and scared.  These are the times when you close off, see no way towards reconciliation, and may want to “throw in the towel” and leave.

      Being able to weather these disruptions while learning healthier skills changes your biology.  It increases the capacity of your pre-frontal cortex to down regulate and calm your egoic reactions, which improves your ability to self-regulate.  You grow physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.  A healthy conscious dynamic promotes healing the divide and repairing the rupture.  As a culture and world, we have not been taught how to return to harmony in ourselves or in relationship with others.

Creation of the Love Bond

     Imagine the relationship system as a triangle or trinity with two people as two points linked together with their energies radiating out to form a third energetic union, which is the body of the relationship.  It is an actual energetic form.  For some, this body is known as marriage.  Since we are talking about All relationships united in the bond of love, let’s call it the Love Bond.  Now, imagine the Love Bond relationship as the fulcrum of a scale balanced by the energy of each partner.  When there is an equal amount of positive loving energy given into the Love Bond by both individuals, there is balance and harmony.  Partners are receiving the benefits of love being radiated back to them. 

The relationship is in a state of healthy equilibrium.

     All natural systems move towards homeostasis.  So it is a natural function to stay in balance.  This balance may mean one person is adding more energy into the relationship than another.  There are times in all relationships when this is necessary.  Usually, there is never an absolute equal amount of energy focused into the relationship by each individual.  When you are attuned to the health of your relationship, there is a loving willingness to give more of your energy when your partner cannot.

     Problems arise in normal relationships when one person consistently adds less energy and attention or when one person adds too much negative or distressing energy.  The scale becomes unbalanced because the Love Bond bank of vitality and positive energy supply is depleted and cannot radiate energy back.  Physically, you may be aware of feeling drained of energy.  Emotionally, you may feel hurt, sad, resentful, overwhelmed, angry, or some other afflictive emotion.  Mentally, you may observe behaviors, attitudes or values not congruent with your own or sense a lack of attention and energy to your relationship from your partner.  When this happens one person will attempt to correct the imbalance by changing their input of energy into the Love Bond, to put it back into balance.

Finding Balance

     There are two basic strategies taken to get the relationship back on track.  You will either put more energy into the Love Bond or you will remove some of your energy from the Love Bond.  When you add your energy, you are focusing more of your attention on the relationship.  When you remove your energy, you are containing your energy by withdrawing your focus and attention.  You can do this in either a positive way from the heart or in a detrimental way from the ego.  In order to bring vitality and health back into the Love Bond, there must be an increase in positive uplifting energy and a decrease in negative harmful energy.

      The Love Bond is the intimate connection between two people.  It includes mutual respect, understanding, trust, affection, sensuality, sexuality, listening, interpersonal sharing, empathy, compassion, appreciation, care and attention.

     Over time, people tend to take their relationships for granted.  It is normal for the intensity of new love to calm down.  The realities of everyday life call your attention.  You need to attend to the practicalities of shelter, finances, work, children, household chores, extended family, social life and the multitudes of responsibilities required for living.  Besides the practicalities taking up a lot of time and energy, often negotiating these responsibilities leads to disagreements.  Resentment builds when partners feel the responsibilities are not shared equally.  Resentment kills the Love Bond.  Loving energy drains out and the intimate side of life is left for last or not at all.

Caring Presence

      Besides having realistic discussions and expectations about these responsibilities, it is important to approach your interactions with attention to the Love Bond.  What kind of energy am I giving to my partner?  What is my intention when I bring up an issue?  Is it to resolve differences or to blame?  Is my contribution creating harmony or disharmony?  Am I giving my attention to the Love Bond or has my attention become focused only on the practicalities of the relationship or my own personal needs?  Am I depositing loving energy into the Love Bond or am I withdrawing more than I am giving?

     You energize the Love Bond with caring presence.  This means being thoughtful.  Think about the attention you gave your partner when you first fell in love?  You thought about them pretty much continually.  Okay, you can step it down from that much attention but if your Love Bond is feeling depleted then you need to step it up.  Find out what actions feel loving to your partner.  Don’t assume that you know.  Perhaps, they just want you to listen, or give them a hug, or for you to take out the garbage.  Take the 5 Love Languages quiz and share your results with your partner and have them do the same.  http://www.5lovelanguages.com/profile/

     Your relationship is a creation and in order for it to thrive, you must be present and pay attention to it.  Fill your Love Bond up with vitality.  Feed it with positive caring energy.  Show gratitude for the small things your partner does for you.  Each day, make it a point to say words of appreciation and support to your partner.  Look into their eyes and really see.  Doing so opens a pathway into the heart, yours and your partners.


Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.

As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

3 Traits All Confident People Have ll Kate Heartsong

3 Traits All Confident People Have by Kate Heartsong

You probably have noticed people at your work place, in social situations and at family events who just seem to carry themselves with a positive and upbeat attitude. Maybe they’re the ones who seem to have everything going right for them.  When they walk in the room, they carry themselves with a certain air of confidence.  It seems that they make friends easily and they’re just that type of person you want to be around!  Ah, it’s that certain air of energy people are drawn to.  Well, these are people who have high self-confidence.

I remember many years ago in my twenties and my teen years when I didn’t feel confident. Back then, I had low self-esteem. I didn’t feel I deserve good things. And I also had people walk all over me easily.   On an unconscious level, I allowed them to.  I didn’t know how to deal with that.

Thankfully I came to realize that I needed to change how I felt about myself, and to build by self-confidence.  Over the years, I took various personal development workshops, got into psychotherapy for the childhood trauma I experienced, read many uplifting and life changing books and practiced many different tools (many of which I share with my clients, audiences and my readers).  As a result of my dedicated personal growth work, I am now quite confident in myself and I feel good about the person I am, the gifts and skills I offer my clients and audiences, and my friends and family, and I’m happy.  You see, it’s possible to change into a more positive and confident person.  I’m living proof!  This is exactly why I’m so passionate about doing the confidence-building coaching and teaching work that I do.

So, for our article this month, here are three traits confident people have.   You cancultivate these traits for yourself over time, by your willingness to be consistent in using confidence-building tools you learn, in practicing feeling good about yourself, reading uplifting books, perhaps talking to a professional counselor or psychotherapist, and by being kind and supportive of yourself!

  • They believe in themselves. Confident people know the gifts and skills they offer and they know themselves well; they recognize the good they offer and realize their self-worth.  This creates a stronger belief in themselves.  Confident people believing in themselves is not being egotistical because they ALSO see the good and the value in everyone else.
  • They use positive self-talk. Confident people use positive language when talking to themselves instead of beating themselves up.  Have you noticed a confident, upbeat person walking into the room?  You can bet they appreciate themselves and use positive self-talk.
  • They surround themselves with positive, uplifting situations, events and people. Like attracts like.  We facilitate more positive attitude when we do positive things like watch happy movies and minimize negative news or people.

Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!


Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

Change Through Suffering ll Rich Brodt

Change through Suffering
By Rich Brodt

Change. It’s something that we all seek in therapy, whether we are the client or the counselor. The goal is movement – to gain awareness such that we can step out of our negative patterns of thinking and behaving. However, it is important to remember that human beings tend to avoid pain at all costs. Looking at statistics for substance abuse trends in the United States makes this clear. We avoid pain of even the most temporary kind whenever we can.

Carl Jung once said that “[p]eople will do anything, no matter how absurd, in order to avoid facing their own souls. One does not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious.” This is how the avoidance of pain relates to therapy. Jung also said that “[t]here is no coming to consciousness without pain.”

Pain is an inevitable part of life.

Unfortunately, in our never-ending attempts to avoid pain, we also avoid the growth that can arise from facing that pain head on. In a session, this may be as simple as a client avoiding certain topics because they are uncomfortable. In those cases, it is the counselor’s responsibility to educate their client on the benefits of their suffering as well as the benefits of facing their own demons.

In the past, I have written about the importance of facing one’s own darkness in order to grow through therapy. A nonjudgmental acceptance of those thoughts, I argued, would lead to a better understanding of the self, as well as increased self-acceptance. Here, however, I want to emphasize a different point: that horrific, traumatic experiences can lead us to levels of self-discovery that may have taken us years to otherwise arrive at.

Why would this be the case? Because something outside of our control happening to us forces us to face what we have been avoiding. After a traumatic event, an individual may experience extreme anxiety, dissociation, recurring thoughts, hyper vigilance and several other symptoms. These symptoms create pain that is impossible to avoid. After trauma, these symptoms can feel so huge that they are difficult to calm with coping mechanisms that may have worked for an individual in the past. They will feel overwhelmed. But, most importantly, they can make the decision to ask for help. This act alone is a huge part of the process. It acts as an acknowledgement that, yes, I am in pain, and, no, I can’t face this all on my own. The next step is to take a closer look at that pain and where it comes from.

To understand what causes us pain is to take a step closer to seeing how we can alleviate it. An unfortunate event such as a traumatic incident, while terrible at the time, often leads to deeper insight about who we can be if we are willing to do the work to get there. Anyone who has experienced PTSD will tell you that some days the world feels overwhelming, responsibilities creep up, and the world itself feels like a dangerous place to exist. The energy of the individual with PTSD is directed outward, vigilantly scanning the world for threats, becoming agitated in crowds, becoming so overwhelmed with outside stimulation that they dissociate.

In this suffering, there is an opportunity to look inward.

The individual can ask questions like: What will make me feel safe? What do I need to do to calm my nerves? The answers will often force the individual to take action. An individual with PTSD will usually benefit from physical exercise. However, not all individuals have the discipline to work out on a regular basis. The desire to rid one’s self of suffering is often enough of a motivator that someone with PTSD becomes willing to be transformed by a commitment to a physical activity.

Physical activity pulls us out of our cerebral machinations and forces us to be present in our bodies. Our bodies are far better at understanding whether or not we are in danger than our minds are. The mind may be focused on this one traumatic event, and as a result, it is constantly looking for threats in any setting. When we constantly scan for threats, we inevitably find them, regardless of whether or not we are in actual danger. Moving into the body helps to change our awareness and bring us to a more mindful consciousness. This allows us to recognize the difference between real danger and that which is merely perceived. Coupled with the increased discipline that comes with regular physical activity, an individual may come out of their traumatic event with deeper insights about themselves and their ability to change. While we can grow without trauma, I like to emphasize that trauma doesn’t have to negatively effect an individual forever.

Instead, it can be a stepping-stone to a new outlook.


Rich Brodt is a former intern at People House, and is currently a co-owner and private practitioner at Elevated Counseling, PLLC in the Highlands area of Denver. Prior to training to become a therapist, Rich practiced as a mental health litigation attorney in New York City, where he first became passionate about the field. Rich draws on knowledge of law, philosophy and poetry, bringing a unique perspective to his sessions.

Rich’s current practice utilizes a client-centered approach, integrating Gestalt, existential and depth approaches. He focuses his practice trauma and anxiety-related issues, including PTSD, high-stress careers, life transitions and other major stressors. Rich’s first priority in counseling is to create a safe, non-judgmental space, where clients can feel comfortable sharing and processing their most difficult thoughts.

 

Elevated Counseling, PLLC
2727 Bryant Street Suite 550
Denver, CO 80211
ElevatedCounseling.org
Ph: (720) 295-1352

Who’s Driving Your Life? ll Lora Cheadle

Who’s Driving Your Life?
True Power and the Fallacy of Force

     We like to think of ourselves as being strong and capable, and for the most part, we are! But because we live in a world that makes us believe we can make, or force, things to happen, we lose touch with the fact that the only thing we can control is ourselves. No matter how much the world tells us otherwise, we cannot make anyone else do what we want. And paradoxically, our true power lies in the absence of force; in the realization that although we cannot control anything, but that we still need to stay at the wheel. We still need to steer our own course for our own benefit.

     We all have dreams, goals and desires, and it’s perfectly acceptable to go after our dreams, to fight for our goals, and to pursue our desires. Often times, our hard work and dedication pays off, and we achieve exactly what it is we desires. Psychologically it’s good for us to plan, prepare and have projects that we are working on.

     The problem lies in the fact that we have been conditioned to think that we have control. That we will be rewarded, in kind, for our hard work and dedication. That if we pay our dues, we will be allowed in the club. That life is fair, and that we deserve things. Our thinking becomes black-and-white. Most of us believe that either;

  • We have complete control over our lives, and if things aren’t turning out the way we want, we simply have to buckle down, work hard, and force it to happen; or
  • That we have no control over our lives, we are at the mercy of God/family/friends/our job/our health/or financial situation/our living situation/the world, and that no matter how much we try, our ship will never come in.

     While neither of these extremes are accurate, most of us lock into one extreme or the other. Then, over time, we look for evidence that supports this belief. And as we find this evidence, it supports our belief as to how the world works, and our belief gets stronger. Eventually, the belief is so strong, that it becomes our world view, and it shapes the course of our life.

Bully Syndrome– My Way or the Highway!

     If we believe that we have the ability to force our will, or desires, or dreams onto others, then we turn our attention, our true power, away from ourselves. When we shift our focus or our power away from our self, and focus it on others, we engage in a type of coercion. Even when the relationship is mutual, whenever we are trying to get someone else to do something for us, we turn over our power to that other person. We become imbalanced, because all of our energy goes towards how we can make others fill us up. Instead of filling ourselves up, instead of creating for ourselves, we seek to have others do the work for us, on our behalf.

     While it may sound appealing to have others do the work for us, in reality, it weakens us. It moves our power outside of ourselves and places our responsibility for our self on others. We become reliant on them, and without realizing it, we have turned the wheel over to them. We can holler out directions, but they are the ones who are truly in charge. We are no longer driving our own lives, and we are relegated to being a back-seat driver in our own existence.

It’s not My Fault! Excuses, Victimhood and Taking Your Hands OFF The Wheel

     Similarly, when we believe that we have no control over anyone or anything, we hand our will away just as much as when we try to control others. The perpetual victim correctly sees that they have no control over others. However, instead of doing what they can to influence or change themselves, instead of at least trying to drive, they simply take their hands off the wheel. They don’t drive, nor do they seek out other competent drives to assist them. They careen along, being knocked about by every bump, twist or turn.

     And life does get bumpy for the perpetual victim! Moreover, the perpetual victim seems not to notice when good things happen, but only notices the bad. They create a self-fulfilling, poor me, belief system, and subconsciously they use the power that they do have, to perpetuate their dejected reality. They literally steer themselves into the ditch! So, although the victim may actually be more powerful than the bully, in that they understand that they cannot control others, they use the power that they do have, to create more victimhood!

Defensive Driving, and Balancing Our Power In Life

     The key to creating a healthy, successful life, lies in bridging the gap between these two extremes. In understanding that we are in charge of driving our own lives, and that although we may use others to assist us, that we are the only ones who can steer our own course. We have to take responsibility for the fact that sometimes we crash, and as crazy as it sounds, sometimes we crash intentionally. Whether it’s fear of failure, fear of success or some other deep, subconscious reason, sometimes we intentionally crash our own lives. And that’s okay. As long as we have awareness about what it is we have done, and we take responsibility for our choices and our actions, we will learn from our mistakes. We can correct our course.

     We are all the bully and we are all the victim. We are in charge of our own life. Take your own wheel, and be mindful about who you allow to drive for you. The road may be bumpy or smooth, but it’s not the road’s fault. Take the wheel when the going gets rough, and be mindful of where you are steering.

Everyone crashes. It’s what you learn from those crashes that counts.

Feminism:  A Tapestry of Colors and Weaves ll Rev. Mary Coday Edwards

Feminism:  A Tapestry of Colors and Weaves
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.
April 10, 2018

“I myself have never been able to find out precisely what feminism is: I only know that people call me a feminist whenever I express sentiments that differentiate me from a doormat, or a prostitute.”  —  Rebecca West, 1913

     What follows is a non-exhaustive list of feminism’s branches; some authors lump categories together, some exclude (1, 2). My point of this exercise is to recognize that we differ in how we direct our energy for a just society. During the 2016 election, intersectional feminists criticized Hilary Clinton for her liberal feminism. They saw her as compromising feminist values—sleeping with the enemy. They ignored how she struggled for decades to enable intersectional feminists to even exist.

     And so we end up where we are now, with millions marching in pink pussy hats. And where a year ago, under this current political administration, we were treated to the photo op of 13 men and no women deciding the fate of women’s healthcare (3).

     I suggest you read the following mindfully, paying attention to any emotional pings. From there, see if you can trace those responses to where you’ve created values, beliefs, attitudes, and laws that other people must follow in order to meet your standards in the fight for social justice. We journey through different life stages, with various limitations imposed on us—sometimes by life choices and sometimes due to what life has given us. Walk with gentleness and compassion toward the other.

Liberal Feminism

This variety of feminism works within the structure of mainstream society to integrate women into that status quo structure.

     As opposed to other forms of feminism, Liberal Feminism is individualistic rather than group-based. Men and women deserve equal rights because both are individuals; rights are granted to the individual—not gender or groups. In the late 1700s, its ardent champions Abigail Adams and Mary Wollstonecraft worked within patriarchal power structures to gain women the right to vote. But that was for white women—not black.

     Focusing on individuals, it sidesteps the social nature of women’s oppression. Compromise is the name of the game, toiling along inside the system. The male-dominated social status quo defines the range in which women are allowed to roam and what that roaming looks like. It’s demanding equal participation in a male tradition. Traditional religions opening up to female leadership initially look like this.

Radical Feminism

     Radical Feminism has its roots in the civil rights and peace movement of 1967-1968 and was the leading edge of feminist theory until about 1975. From the Latin word, root or source, Radical Feminism believes that the male-dominated hierarchy is the source of the oppression of women.

     While Liberal Feminism focused on the rights of the individual, Radical Feminism was dedicated to eliminating and re-ordering the social/group structures that perpetuated that oppression. Its goal was to jettison male supremacy in all institutions.

     This included the idea that since men had oppressed women for hundreds of years, it may be necessary to discriminate against men while society undergoes this change, such as by excluding men from positions of power for a time.

     This laser-directed attention changed laws, giving women access to credit, equal pay, equal employment opportunities, as well as raising public awareness to issues of rape and violence against women. This branch of feminism has given birth to several sub-categories which focus on particular issues.

Marxist and Socialist Feminism

     Instead of the patriarchy as the root of all female oppression, Marxist Feminists see capitalism as the cause of gender equality. This economic system presses women into assuming responsibility for unpaid domestic tasks, such as child-rearing, homemaking, and caring for elderly family members or those with disabilities, while men are free to create monetary wealth in the public sphere. It is sometimes seen as a sub-category of Radical Feminism.

Cultural Feminism

     Social change demanded by Radical Feminism (or any group working for social justice) is just plain hard. Pessimism always waits around the corner ready to defeat you. So in the case of Radical Feminism, many moved over to Cultural Feminism—the difference between the two is that while the former sought to transform society, the latter moved to create a woman’s culture. If you can’t change the male-dominated society, avoid it as much as possible. Health centers created by women with a specific focus on the needs of women, children, and those in poverty are an example. 

     Cultural Feminism holds that women and men are essentially different and that women are generally more nurturing, more empathic, and less violent than men. Cultural Feminists seek to celebrate these qualities, which they believe have been oppressed by men.

     Cultural Feminists believe that both men and women are hurt by contemporary male-dominated society, which they see as encouraging male behavior such as competition and conflict.

     The goal of Cultural Feminism is not to bring about some pre-scripted political revolution, but to improve tolerance and diversity by celebrating women’s special qualities and unique experiences. Like Marxist Feminism, Cultural Feminism has in recent years expanded its focus from championing not just the perspectives of women, but also those of sexual and racial minorities as well.

Ecofeminism

     Always a favorite of mine, it holds that a patriarchal, resource extraction and polluting society degrades and/or extinguishes our natural resources with no attention to the consequences of these policies to the rights of nature or to sustainability. “Mankind” in all its wisdom (and hubris) denies interconnectedness and will develop technology to reverse the impact of pollution’s poisons in our air, water, and earth. Since dominance rules, survival of the fittest in its most harmful form is law. Creatures who can’t defend themselves against man’s greed and violence are destined to be eliminated from our planet.

     This theory says that as men control and destroy our environment for their own benefit and pleasure, so they also control and oppress women for the same reasons. Ecofeminism advocates for a reduction in environmental destruction, as well as creating a healthy society to repair social and environmental injustices.

Intersectional Feminism

This section deserves its own page, which I will address in my next blog.

     A primary criticism of early feminism is that it was defined around the needs of white, middle-class women, ignoring the fact that women of color, those with disabilities, or any transgender will face alternative forms of oppression. Intersectional feminism seeks to address these blinders.

Other

     Other categories include Black, Separatist, or I-Feminism. I will discuss some of their concepts in my next blog.

     In the meantime, practice awareness, inclusion, and compassion in order to create a just and equal society.

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) Many resources exist on the Web. An excellent sources for additional reading options: https://www.uah.edu/woolf/feminism_kinds.htm

2.) https://opinionfront.com/types-of-feminism-you-should-know-about

3.) https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/room-men-maternity-coverage_us_58d416e6e4b02d33b749b713

4.) Kabat-Zinn, Jon, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, on mindfulness practices.

_______

About the Author: Rev. Mary Coday Edwards is  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

Treasure What You Already Have ll Kate Heartsong

TREASURE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE AND BUILD CONFIDENCE AND GRATITUDE

By: Kate Heartsong

 

You’ve probably have heard to not take things for granted.  Yet we often do take people and/or and things for granted.  For example, how many times have you started your car and it starts?  You don’t think anything of it right?  How about when you get together with your friends and loved ones; go to the same job each day; have enough food on the table; feel physically healthy; are able to walk; and are free to go where you want to go?  Yes, all of these are easy to take for granted.

Yet, when something unexpected happens and what you’ve been taking for granted is gone, oh!  that’s when we appreciate it all the more!  And often we experience great upset when it’s gone.

About a year ago, I went to my car in the garage, and pushed the garage door opener, and the garage door got stuck.  It turns out the whole spring and cable came out!  I couldn’t get my car out after trying to open the garage manually either.  It was a helpless feeling, knowing my car was stuck in this garage and I couldn’t go to teach my class!

Thankfully, my roommate and also my nextdoor neighbor were available quickly after I contacted both of them.  Wow!  They assessed the situation, were able to put their muscles to work and manually lifted the heavy garage door.  I was free!  Talk about a great demonstration of being taken care of by the universe through these two wonderful men acting so quickly on my behalf.

This situation wasn’t extreme as others, yet it reminded me to appreciate and treasure what I do already have. 

Then, this made me realize that sometimes we can take ourselves and our skills and gifts for granted.   Ummm, let’s think about that one! 

For example, how many times have you shown up to work, offering your organizational, communication, and/or leadership skills – whatever gifts and skills you use – without giving it a thought of the positive benefits you’re giving to your employer, co-workers and clients?

What would it be like if you came to truly recognize those gifts and skills at work?  And what about at home in your personal life?  What would it be like to really appreciate yourself?  This will increase your self-confidence!  And the awesome thing about this is, as you raise your self-appreciation and confidence, and NOT take yourself for granted, you also benefit others around you!

I bring these examples up simply to remind you to not take things for granted, and not to take yourself for granted.  Let’s take this a step further, and invoke gratitude for all you have , for all you do and all your gifts and skills!  Gratitude is such a powerful and positive emotion, and it raises your vibration, so you feel better!

I invite you to sit down and write a few of your gifts and skills and feel gratitude for yourself.  Also, write down five people and/or things you’re choosing to NOT take for granted.

Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!


Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

Kate Heartsong
303.549.0546
Kate@JoyfulRadiance.com
Website:  JoyfulRadiance.com

Frugality, Self Reliance, Generosity and the Cost of Not Receiving ll Dorothy Wallis

Frugality, Self Reliance, Generosity and the Cost of Not Receiving

By Dorothy Wallis

     As a child of depression era parents, I was taught to be frugal.  Growing up in a small farmhouse in the country, there wasn’t a need for many material possessions.  Anything that one owned was valuable.  Clothes were practical and seasonally appropriate.  Taking care of them was necessary.  If they became worn or torn, we mended them.  I learned how to sew, knit and crochet from my mother and grandmother.  To this day, I hand wash my sweaters and mend the moth holes.  Repairing anything over throwing it out and buying new is a first response.  If it can be fixed, do so.  If I buy something, I expect it to last and I take care of it to make sure it will as long as possible.  I will wait to buy quality over a cheaply made item.  If it still works and has life in it, keep it.  My car is a 2001 Toyota Celica.  It does not have a GPS, keyless starter or fancy electronics.  It does have style and it gets me where I want to go.  I have no intention of trading it in for a new luxury vehicle.  Yes, my car is a relic, it is not even made anymore, but I love it.

Confidence through Self Reliance

     Being frugal has taught me self-reliance.  A sense of practicality became a “learn how to do-it-yourself” philosophy.  Why pay someone else to do something if you can do it?  I have made clothing, doll apparel, pillows, curtains, costumes, toys and teepees, sanded floors, painted and repaired walls, designed my house and garden, hand dug trenches, holes and garden beds, planted, pruned and landscaped my property while tending my vegetable garden with the satisfying benefit of fresh nourishing produce.  As a child, I built play structures out of bark, snow, and scrap pieces of wood or any available material.  Making things is fun.  There is a sense of groundedness and accomplishment in knowing that I am capable of figuring things out, using my imagination and creating what I want. 

Self-reliance has served me well and given me the inner confidence to know that I can learn to do anything.   

     This self-reliant confidence along with a fascination with design took me through a span of jobs designing printed circuit boards, electronics, mechanical equipment, aerospace launch vehicles, and originating a landscape design business.  My interest in psychology, spirituality, biology, the arts and people has cultivated my pursuit of creating a healthier and more humane world for all of us.  Through following my aspirations, I journeyed with metaphysics, meditation, teaching children, facilitating adult vision retreats, workshops, counseling and therapy and found fulfillment in giving to others. 

The Myth of Giving being Better than Receiving

     What I have discovered is that frugality and self-reliance are not in opposition to generosity.  Frugality is being thrifty, economical, prudent, and careful with resources.  This quality has lost ground over the last fifty years and we can see this in our economy and care for our environment.  One image that people may have is that if one is frugal then one is stingy but these are two different attributes.  I was taught to depend upon myself and to be generous and giving to others.  One story really sticks in my heart.  Friends of my parents had a large family with thirteen children.  Every time we went to their home, we were to take one of our toys and give it to them.  That was hard when I was a kid because we didn’t have many toys and each one was precious.  Yet, it felt so good to see the happiness the gift of my toy brought. 

What I learned was unselfish charity, “It is better to give than receive.”
 
     It sounds like such an admirable truth and it shaped my life.  Yet, there are consequences to thinking that giving is Better than receiving.  Of course, giving to others is valuable and worthy.  I give of my time and energy.  I’m a good tipper, a generous gift giver and will happily spend money on friends and loved ones, give the “better” or “bigger” piece to another, give things away for free, give discounts and go overtime with my clients, do pro-bono work, think of others first and go out of my way to do for them and put my needs last.  Being generous feels good and research confirms that giving to others enhances mental health, reduces stress, lends a sense of purpose and increases life expectancy.  I won’t give up Giving.  What I needed to ditch was putting myself last or forgetting my needs entirely.  The attitude that giving is better than receiving cost me.

Being Needless and Wantless Creates Guilt and Shame

     For a long time, I was reluctant to spend money on myself.  Growing up, my family was not just frugal, but also quite poor.  We were taught to do without and to be needless and wantless.  Guilt would succumb me whenever I bought something for myself that was not a necessity.  Somehow, it was not okay for me to receive.  It showed up in big and little ways.  Inside of me was a secret chamber filled with shame that I kept hidden.  Judging myself, I would hide things I bought, which also meant that I was not enjoying their use.  I had to justify my purchases, “it was on sale, someone gave me a gift certificate, I needed it for work, it will be useful.”  It couldn’t be that I simply desired it.  The shame would churn inside and eat me up.  “Am I being irresponsible? Am I being selfish?”  There was a lot of fear and worry that I locked inside.   

“Without Giving there can be No Receiving and Without Receiving there can be No Giving”

Abundance is Giving and Receiving

     Abundance in the form of being “given to” was not a part of my belief system.  It was fine if it happened through work.  I was self-reliant to an extreme.  I would not ask for help even if I were sick.  I would not pay for a service if I thought I could do it on my own.  I wasn’t allowing myself to receive the joy of sharing abundance.  What I now know for sure is that without giving there can be no receiving and without receiving there can be no giving.  One is not better than the other.  It is a balance.  They go hand in hand.  What I left out of the equation was Me.  I wasn’t receiving the joy of giving to myself or allowing others to give to me.  Deprivation is not a virtue.  If I truly believed in an abundant universe then I needed to adjust my scarcity thinking.  As I receive, I am filled and able to give in return and so are others.

     I remember my Grandmother Dixie putting her finest and most cherished dress in the back closet only to be worn occasionally at very special times.  Did those times ever occur?  Not often…perhaps not at all.  Am I going to put my life on hold or am I going to allow myself the joy of the abundance in my life?  Letting go of guilt and shame about “having” nice things is such a relief.  I’ve learned to take those clothes out of the back closet, wear my jewelry, use the china and “special” dishes, and purchase things for my home that delight me.  I’ve decided to take trips to visit my daughter, my sisters and to go on outings with friends.  I have realized that I am a resourceful and responsible person and will still be frugally cautious with my money.  I can rely on myself and also ask or pay for help.  With the consciousness of abundance, I have genuine gratitude for my possessions and have the ability to share my resources in Joy.


     Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

     As a leader in the field of emotional consciousness and the connection to mind, body and spirit, her compassionate approach safely teaches you how to connect to your body, intuition and knowing to clear emotional wounds and trauma at the core.  The powerful Heartfulness protocol empowers your ability to join with your body’s innate capacity to heal through holistic Somatic, Sensory and Emotional awareness.  www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

The Real Secret ll Erin Amundson

The Real Secret – How Your Subconscious Plays a Role in Manifestation
By: Erin Amundson

Recently I had the pleasure of sitting down with a friend who has been looking for a new job for quite some time.  This friend of mine has an impressive resume, an attractive personality, amazing personal references and has been in the search for work for more than a year in a market that should be relatively easy to find a job in.  He’s working his tail off, he’s hired professionals to review his resume, and he follows up every time.  He’s doing “everything right” – and not succeeding.  Well, everything, that is, except perhaps the MOST IMPORTANT thing: examining his subconscious beliefs and managing his energetic output.

When I engaged him in a process of going deeper, we discovered a few things. 

One, he had been shamefully and arguably wrongfully terminated from a job in the height of his career.  Two, as a child he was constantly told he wouldn’t amount to much by an abusive father.  Three, he had become desperate for a job, and that was very clear in his body language and energy.

First, let’s look at his past in the context of the quantum world we live in.  New science continues to prove that we are made of energy and the environment around us is made of that same energy (this is at the smallest level of the molecule).  Science also tells us that these energetic particles are in a feedback loop with one another.  That means that we take in the information from our environment and adjust to it, and our environment takes in the information from US and adjusts to it. 

So, the question I always ask is this:  Do you want be a product of your environment or the creator of it?

As adults, we have the choice.  However, we’ve all heard children called “sponges” and for good reason.  When my friend was small, his environment was one of abuse, failure, limitation, addiction and struggle.  His little being soaked all of that up, and because his young brain wasn’t developed enough to process it, the information was stored in his subconscious, which created a program of output based on his environment.  My friend now puts out a literal vibe of being worthless, having to struggle, being a victim and failure.   And as he is interviewing for jobs, these are the messages that are reflected right back to him.

On paper, and in person, you’d never know this about my friend.  The truth is, he didn’t know it about himself.  Consciously, LOGICally, he knows he’s talented and hard working.  But under the surface, he is still telling the story of his childhood, reinforced by the story of his being fired mid-career.  I suspect he will either attract no employment at all or another abusive employer if he doesn’t shift the story of his subconscious.

The second factor keeping my friend from his dream job is his desperation.  This one was developed after a few months of searching and failing.  He approaches his interviews with a neediness, that ultimate keeps attracting more need into his life.  If we spoke to the employers, we’d probably hear them say something like, “I can’t put my finger on it, but something about that guy just doesn’t FEEL right.” 

And they’d be correct because my friend is out of alignment to attract what he wants.

So what’s the message in this story?  If you’re working to co-create your life – whatever it is that you want – and it’s not working out for you, you may need to explore your subconscious.  Most of the great law of attraction literature teaches us to manage our thoughts.  I think this is great – but did you know that our conscious brain is only 5% of the story?  The rest of the information, particularly information we have taken in as children, is stored in our subconscious.  The subconscious thoughts and beliefs put out just as much of a vibe as our conscious thoughts and beliefs.  It is only when we bring them into our conscious awareness that we truly have the power to create what we desire.


Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

A Different Kind of Pill ll Rich Brodt

A Different Kind of Pill
By: Rich Brodt

   

   The “red pill” was a concept introduced into American culture by the film, The Matrix, and the symbol has come to mean something like the truth – an ability to view what is really taking place outside of our perception and cultural programming. So when I watched the documentary “The Red Pill,” I expected to receive novel information that would change the way I looked at gender equality, but instead I saw more blaming and little actual progress.

     The film, which purports to be a feminist’s journey into the Men’s Rights movement, ends up being a somewhat heavy handed documentary that accomplishes little in terms of bridging the gap between men and women who both feel that they receive unfair treatment in society. The film does point out several men’s issues that could use more attention. These include the male suicide rate, male treatment in family court and men’s health issues. However, there is rarely any sort of deep inspection as to why these issues arise. The feminists interviewed for the film tended to blame the men for their own problems, painting themselves as unsympathetic to men’s issues. The men interviewed in the film seem unsympathetic to women’s issues. And as a result of how they frame their arguments, a few reveal their own misogynistic thinking. 

      The most immediate response most people have to something going wrong in their life is to immediately look for someone or something on which they can blame their misfortune. As we mature, we are faced with our failings more frequently. We can blame an “other” for this misfortune and easily cede responsibility for fixing it ourselves. However, this leads to inertia and increased defensiveness. If we regularly avoid responsibility for our actions, we need to shout even louder about who is oppressing us in order to justify our continued stagnation. Now this is not to say that oppression doesn’t exist. It does.

     Both men and women experience injustice at the hands of a system meant to laud certain traits in both men in women, while exploiting others. Men fights and die in wars more than women. Men work more dangerous jobs and account for a vast majority of workplace deaths. Women face high rates of sexual violence, sexual assault, and harassment. Women have more difficulty rising to top level job positions in large companies, and are underrepresented in politics. 

      Most sane people would look at the last paragraph and agree that these are all issues we, collectively, should care about. The systems currently in place limit the freedoms of both men and women. Most of us do not carry viewpoints that skew us into polarity on topics of gender equality. However, a very loud minority of people do. These are the voices that we tend to hear. Those that sensationalize facts, manufacture clickbait headlines, and treat identity issues as all-or-nothing endeavors where one side is right while the other is clearly wrong. Few issues are that black and white.

     We live in a polarizing time. The media pushes those stories that are most controversial. Media outlets have been rejuvenated, and given new life by the politicization of their reporting. Controversial headlines mean clicks, and clicks mean money. I would urge all media consumers to question those who seeks to monetize your struggle. The actual red pill involves the ability for all people to take step outside of their respective narratives and work towards a more equal future for everyone. I think empathy is the key. We need to see these problems collectively as, human problems that cannot be remedied without cooperation and collaboration. Dividing our causes by gender lines only worsens the issues.

Citations:
Davies, E & Jaye, C. (2016) The Red Pill. United State of America: Jaye Bird Productions


 Rich Brodt is a former intern at People House, and is currently a co-owner and private practitioner at Elevated Counseling, PLLC in the Highlands area of Denver. Prior to training to become a therapist, Rich practiced as a mental health litigation attorney in New York City, where he first became passionate about the field. Rich draws on knowledge of law, philosophy and poetry, bringing a unique perspective to his sessions. 

Rich’s current practice utilizes a client-centered approach, integrating Gestalt, existential and depth approaches. He focuses his practice trauma and anxiety-related issues, including PTSD, high-stress careers, life transitions and other major stressors. Rich’s first priority in counseling is to create a safe, non-judgmental space, where clients can feel comfortable sharing and processing their most difficult thoughts. 

 

Elevated Counseling, PLLC
2727 Bryant Street Suite 550
Denver, CO 80211
ElevatedCounseling.org
Ph: (720) 295-1352

Change or Starve: Cracking Patriarchal Buddhism ll Rev. Mary Coday Edwards

Change or Starve: Cracking Patriarchal Buddhism
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA

In the days of the Buddha, in the Indian village of Kosambi, two Buddhist monks came to blows over a petty latrine infraction when one of the monks left water in the bathroom’s dipper. The dissension grew, with the law breaker being excommunicated—unfairly in his opinion, as well as in the opinion of his followers. Two factions formed around these monks, creating more discord.

Word of their animosity reached the Buddha, and he sent emissaries encouraging them to be united, and twice the emissaries reported back saying, “They refuse to be reconciled.”

The Buddha himself came to mediate, and was told by the two monks to mind his own business. The Buddha then left to go on retreat.

Due to the monks’ enmity, the spiritual needs of the community began to suffer.

Now, Buddhist traditions require the community to support the monastics through alms giving.

“This is ridiculous,” they decided. “We’re feeding these leaders for what reason?”

Halting the giving of alms, the community members told the two dissenting monks, “Change or starve.” And so the lay people accomplished what the Buddha couldn’t, and the monks resolved their differences (1).

A First Step: Full Ordination of Women

Buddhism’s foundation was built upon a political past of hierarchy, patriarchy, and authoritarianism. Buddhist theologian Rita M. Gross asks whether,

“… stripped of sexist privilege to men, patriarchal hierarchies, and androcentric interpretations of key texts and concepts, anything remains of the religion” (2).

In other words, can this religion be saved? Under this patriarchal veneer, do core truths exist that are fundamentally democratic and liberating for both men and women? Gross concludes there are, as does retired Vipassana Buddhist teacher Eric Kolvig (3), encapsulated through the Four Noble Truths (4).

Gross says that institutionalized and mandated full ordination of women is an obvious first step, granting women full participation in Buddhist institutions.

“Ordain them or starve!” said Vipassana Buddhist Teacher Eric Kolvig.

Kolvig told me the opening Kosambi story in connection with the Theravada Buddhist tradition.

“Monastics in the Theravada tradition depend for their survival entirely on support from laypeople,” he said. “The laypeople of Kosambi withdrew their support from the battling monastics and forced the antagonists to make peace.  It was the first recorded organized boycott in human history.

“The patriarchal establishment in Theravada monasticism today steadfastly refuses to grant women full ordination,” Kolvig continued.

“Because these contemporary monastics, like the ones in the Buddha’s time, depend entirely on support from laypeople in order to survive, we can be inspired by that boycott 2,500-plus years ago.  We laypeople today can withdraw our support from those who will not grant women full ordination, saying, ‘ordain them or starve!’”

Historical Precedents

Within the three Buddhist traditions of Zen, Tibetan, and Vipassana/Theravada, sub-groups exist which have in the past and continue to ordain bhikkhuni, but not necessarily granting full ordination. Elements of unfairness still remain across countries and within these three traditions. For example, women may have obligatory extra vows, called The Eight Garudharmas, subordinating them to the bhikkhus. In some countries, women end up neither bhikkhuni nor lay people, but somewhere in the middle. Not fully ordained, they are not entitled to the same recognition, status, or financial support as their bhikkhu brethren.

But within Buddhism, precedents exist justifying female ordination. Historians say that after Prince Siddhartha became the Buddha, he denied his aunt’s request, Mahapajapati Gotami—the woman who had raised him—for admission into his monastic community.

But Gotami persisted. Eventually the Buddha relented and ordained Gotami as a bhikkhuni (fully ordained Buddhist nun; male monastics are called bhikkhus), along with other women including his wife Yaśodharā. This order lasted for a thousand years, dying out through what Gross believes was institutionalized neglect as well as the discouragement of women from leaving their traditional, domestic roles behind for their own spiritual quest.

Bowing to Outdated Cultural Constructs?

Do Westerners want to give up their civil rights—legal rights guaranteed to them—such as the rights imparted to U.S. citizens through the U.S. Constitution, which include the basic right of freedom from discrimination based on certain personal characteristics, such as gender, race, or disability?

Do these same individuals want to live divided/dualistic lives, where in the political and economic spheres women can lead governments and corporations, but in their religious communities, they are subject to the whims of a male dictatorship? Where men keep half the world’s adult population as children, determining what’s “best” for them? Do we want to return to that oppression/suppression?

I left my Christian church years ago. I’d been in dialogue with the male pastors over their suppression of women’s rights when it dawned on me: “Hey! This is a volunteer organization—what am I doing? I don’t have to be a part of this.” I was a leader in my professional life, but in the church I was a child whose speech and conduct were directed by the male moral arbiters, who couldn’t—and wouldn’t—explain this dichotomy.  I withdrew my energy to direct it toward life-affirming endeavors vs. life-denying.

Ordain them or starve (5). It’s simple and powerful.

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/English-Texts/Buddhist-Legends/01-05.htm

2.) Buddhist theologian Rita M. Gross’, “Buddhism After Patriarchy,” in After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions, eds. Paula M. Cooey, William R. Eakin, and Jay B. McDonald; 1998; Orbis Books, New York. (This question could be asked of all the world’s major religions.)

3.) Personal interview with retired Vipassana Buddhist teacher Eric Kolvig, February 2018.

4.) Many Buddhist resources exist on line and in print explaining The Four Noble Truths.

5.) Change IS happening: https://www.lionsroar.com/enlightenment-has-no-gender/; https://www.lionsroar.com/love-and-justice-the-radical-buddhism-of-rev-angel-kyodo-williams/; http://theweek.com/captured/721705/thailands-female-rebel-monks

_______

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

Abiding in Stillness ll Dorothy Wallis

Abiding in Stillness
by Dorothy Wallis

     Is the turmoil and chaos around the world impinging upon your life?  Is your level of anxiety increasing?  Do you desire relief from uncertainty and stress?  The world is rapidly changing and it may seem overwhelming to constantly experience so much change.  You may want life to be simpler, easier, and less complicated.  You may have a strong desire for peace and serenity, for all of the turbulence, disorder and conflict to stop.  You want to enter into the “good times” where life is pleasurable and you look forward to each day without worrying about anything.  You want space to breathe and relax.  You want the “noise” to stop.

When life brings you stillness…those times when nothing is happening, everything is quiet, you have time to spare without anything to do, your loved ones and friends are fine, there is no drama or concern, when there is only space and time, what happens inside of you?  Do you relish these moments?  Do enjoy the stillness?  Do you stop and just Be with the spaciousness?  Do you pause and breathe into a state of relaxation?

Does it take you some time to unwind?  Do you find your body fidgety, restless and buzzing with energy?  When you stop doing, do you find yourself thinking about all that “needs” to get done or feel guilty for not being productive?  Certainly, when your life is filled up with tasks and responsibilities, there are always more things that “need to get done.”  Yet when your chores are done and you actually have time without anything “to do” or when circumstances create time where you “can’t do”, what happens to you in those moments?  As strange as it may seem, stillness is one of the hardest states to be in.  Think about it for a moment.  What happens when you have nothing to do?  Do you feel at peace?  What happens when you are waiting in line or sitting in a meeting?  Do you take the time to be present right where you are without it needing to be different or do you become anxious, annoyed, impatient, or irritated?  Do you need others to “hurry up” and “get on with it?”

Movement is Natural and Habitual
There is a natural tendency to keep moving.  Life is movement.  Every atom, molecule and cell in your body is vibrating with energy.  Stillness can be scary or at the very least uncomfortable.  Movement is innate.  The life force propels you to develop, grow, and unfold the distinctive gifts and wisdom that are the result of the blending together of your ancestry and the accumulation of your spirit’s journey.  The body has limits and from human experience, it has an expiration date.  There is a remembrance of the body’s impermanence and an instinctive urge to make this life count, to have meaning, purpose and fulfillment.  There is a sense that “time is of the essence” along with societal admonitions of “do not put off tomorrow what can be done today.”  In other words, action and movement are built into our biology and also culturally encouraged.

Distracting from What Ails You
You may not be taking advantage of times when you could be still simply from a conditioned habit of “non-stop doing” or preoccupation with drama and external events.  At a deeper level, you might use distractions to stop yourself from taking time to be still, which may indicate an avoidance of personal issues, thoughts, behaviors or emotions that you do not want to face.
​Intolerable feelings of heartbreak, loss, disappointment, trauma, difficult life decisions and transitions may stop you from going within and being with stillness.  You may rush to be engaged with anything that will keep you from feeling hurt, the emptiness of loneliness and despair, or from knowing that you have a health issue or an insurmountable problem.  A loss of relationship and connection with another may amplify the void within.  When you are not receiving love and nurturing from others, your feelings of loneliness and pain may serve as a reflection of your inability to love and nurture yourself.  It can be very difficult to turn within and become aware of what is lacking, what has caused you pain or loss, or to see unhealthy beliefs and habits you have held.

“Nature Abhors a Vacuum”  ~ Aristotle

What is Here that Wants to be Present?
Stillness evokes a sense of emptiness, of the unknown and the void.  Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, postulated, “nature abhors a vacuum.”  He observed that whenever there was empty space, it would be filled even if it were filled with air.  You can see this phenomenon in the aftermath of a forest fire.  Rain and floods are often prevalent in the following years and very quickly dormant seeds germinate, weeds take hold, and new trees are birthed.  Before long, flora and fauna return.  We too, abhor a vacuum.  We want to quickly “fill the space and emptiness.”  Just think what happens when there is silence at a dinner party or at a seminar?  Does it feel uncomfortable?  A friend that attended an Eckhart Tolle workshop mentioned how Eckhart sat in front of the group in silence for a very long time before speaking.  His message was one of “Presence in the Heart” and by physically “Being Present” he modeled the vibration and message more powerfully than speaking about it.  Do you imagine that the participants sat peacefully in the Darshan of stillness?  Most likely, the stillness began to bring up emotion.  Perhaps some of the people experienced anticipation looking around the room to see the response of others, and maybe they responded with nervous movement or laughter.

“It is in the Stillness that you Hear the Longings of Your Soul.”

Emotion is aroused in stillness.  It wants to be felt, to be seen, and for you to listen to what needs to be heard.  It is in the stillness that you hear the longings of your soul.  It is in the stillness where your guidance offers you counsel and healing.  The emptiness is filled and it is filled with your essence.  It is where your true nature is found.  Emotions are an elegant expression of energy offering you vital information about your well-being, your passions and desires, and guidance toward your highest growth.

Stillness Balances, Heals and Revitalizes Your Body
After a person has been through a lot of stress and chaos, the natural state is for the body to enter a time of stillness and emptiness in order for the body to rebalance.  It can show up as needing a lot of sleep.  You may want to withdraw from the outside world for a while.  You may be sensitive to noise and just want to “zone out.”  Your body does its best to carry out your desires, yet physically, mentally and emotionally, it needs to rest and rejuvenate to remain balanced and energized.
Abiding in stillness will help you revitalize your physical body.  Stillness gives brain cells time and space to regenerate, with less sensory input silence and stillness replenish your brain and body’s energy and resources, it gives your pre-frontal cortex rest from the burden of processing, organizing, decision making and higher order thinking, and taps into an alternate mode where creativity and intuition reside.  Stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and heart rates are reduced and people sleep better when balance is achieved through silent stillness.
Free and Integrate Your Emotions
A free flow of emotions allowing them to resolve, integrate and dissipate occurs, instead of being “stuck” inside of your body, when you touch them in stillness.  It is the build up of suppressed and bottled up emotion, which becomes destructive.  Emotion is energy and when it accumulates, the pressure cannot be contained without outwardly exploding or internally damaging your physical body causing illness and disease.  Mental disturbances and cognitive dissonance may occur resulting in a breakdown of mental health.

Feel Safe Exploring Stillness
     If you have been avoiding or are fearful of stillness, you might invite a friend or a person you enjoy and trust to sit together in stillness.  Sit in an energy or place that you love and where you feel safe.  Allow yourself to be a bit uncomfortable as you experience the feelings and sensations that arise.  If difficult emotions arise, breathe and relax into the sensations.  Take a break if needed.  If you feel they are too intense for you to process, find a therapist to help.  Know that you are in control.  Sit for as short or as long as you desire.  Take your time; you do not need to rush the process.  Begin to trust yourself and your body.  Allow yourself to experience stillness as an interesting and even exciting destination that you have not experienced before.  It is not empty.  This place of stillness is actually filled with life.  The fountain of creation is found within the void.  Find the richness of texture, sensation, feeling and subtle nuances of being and consciousness contained here.  Meet your essence, receive guidance, and discover yourself.  You will be rewarded with a newfound sense of trust, stability and confidence in the world and yourself.


Nature inherently organizes towards homeostasis and balance.  After a heightened period of chaos when everything is thrown “up in the air” a new structure will be established that adapts to the changes that have occurred.  A time of Stillness ensues as the new form stabilizes.  Developing Patience allows a person to slow down and comfortably move into Stillness.  Refer to “Dancing with Chaos” and “The Lost Art of Patience.”

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality.
www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

Trusting, Confidence and Inner Peace ll Kate Heartsong

Trusting, Confidence and Inner Peace 

Trusting ourselves and that all is well in our lives is a big one for many people.  It certainly has been for me!  I have gratefully become more trusting over time, trusting myself, others, and that all really is in divine right order in my life.  Of course, we all can’t go around trusting everything, but that’s where discretion and self-trust comes in.   As you increase self-trust, your self-confidence grows!  It has a wonderful cumulative effect.

Here are two simple techniques on increasing your self-trust:

1.) Create a special altar in your home that is specific to your heart’s desires. This altar can consist of special mementos that bring a sense of peace and joy. It could include such items as a sentimental family photo, a unique rock from a place that brought you joy on vacation, a poem, or picture that ignites a certain pleasant memory; anything that brings you a feeling of love and warmth can be put on your alter.

Once you have this alter, sit next to it and just be with the essence of it and set an intention to be more trusting. As you are with these objects, choose to have positive thoughts, and choose to relax and trust all is well.

2.) You can carry with you a small cherished object that warms your heart and reminds you that all is well for you. Touch this object during the day as often as you like.

As you touch the object, you can feel in your heart and say any of the following words to help build trust:

–  I am a child of The Creator and this inherently means I am indeed taken care of on all levels. All my needs are easily met.

–  It is The Creator whom I am always with and therefore I trust that all is well in my life.

– I fully know and believe that all I need is provided for me now and always. I deeply breathe this truth into my soul.

– The Creator, You and I are one, and therefore abundance of joy, peace, and harmony are mine. I easily receive these blessings.

As I have greater trust, I have more self-confidence, and also inner peace.  This in turn contributes to more peace in the world through our collective consciousness, since we are all one connected !  Oneness !  Isn’t it grand to know you can make a positive difference?

In what ways do you create more trust within yourself?

Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!


Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

Kate Heartsong
303.549.0546
Kate@JoyfulRadiance.com
Website:  JoyfulRadiance.com

Beyond Mindfulness ll Erin Amundson

Beyond Mindfulness
By: Erin Amundson  

   I live a life that I love.  While I am not above feeling difficult emotions or having stressful moments, I’ve found a sweet spot to divine living that’s at least one step beyond mindfulness.  Sure, I started somewhere in being mindful, bringing conscious awareness to my thoughts, my actions, my food and my relationships.  But I quickly realized that none of this does anything for me if my subconscious mind is busy running other programs.

     If you aren’t familiar, the subconscious is the area of our brain that is responsible for things like our heart beat, our digestion, and our blood circulation.  It controls all the aspects of our functioning that our conscious mind doesn’t, kind of like our computer’s hard drive.  

All of these things happen without our conscious awareness. 

     In addition to regulating our body functions the subconscious mind also regulates some of our bad memories, sensations and emotions for us so that our conscious mind doesn’t have to carry such a heavy burden. This is a pretty ingenious survival technique, since we would actually go crazy or die in shock from too much trauma on the conscious brain.  Our subconscious handles what our conscious mind cannot. 

     If all of this isn’t enough, our Natural Technology holds the blueprint for our greatest gifts, our purpose in the world, our healthiest body, our most fulfilling relationships, and the keys to rapid healing for our conscious mind.  This is the stuff we all want in life – and it’s my mission to make sure we access it.  This is the journey to the sweet life, my friends.    

     I think most of us would say we want that sweet life, right?  Most of us try really, really hard to achieve it.  We read books, attend seminars, meditate, do yoga….and on and on.  I do all of these things, too, because I enjoy them.  Not because I believe any one is the key to my greatness.  Because, in my search for a great life, I discovered something really important.  No amount of yoga, fasting, reading or meditation is going bring me my best life if I have a wound operating out of my subconscious.   

So, I set out to heal my subconscious, and in the process, educated myself to provide healing to others. 

     NOTE: A subconscious pattern creates a problem in our life that operates automatically, without our conscious awareness or any understanding of the cause or solution.  Most of us store some form of hurt, rejection, trauma or limitation in our subconscious minds.  The most common of these are rooted in childhood because our underdeveloped brains are less capable of processing heavy emotion and experience. 

     Young children have undeveloped brains that cannot think abstractly.  We cannot separate what happens to us from who we are.  Our conscious mind also is not developed enough to deal with certain levels of pain.  This can happen with a traumatic event at any age, but our child brains are especially susceptible.  So, for example, when a child is abandoned by a parent or suffers the death loss of someone very close to them, this pain is often stored in the subconscious.  

     Then, throughout life, the subconscious creates automatic emotional, physical and sensory responses to triggers that resemble what is stored there.  For example, having an intense emotional response to a good friend wanting some alone time or a close co-worker deciding to move to another country.  To the subconscious storing the old memory of abandonment, this trigger event causes a great deal of tension in the adult relationship that feels unsolvable.   

In addition, the subconscious will cause us to make choices in our life from this automatic response based on a wound, or core shame message, we are not aware of.  Most of us are unaware that we make choices based on both the conscious and subconscious mind.   Now the wounded subconscious begins EVERY time to chose partners who end up abandoning the person.  This, of course, causes a lot of pain.

     The victim of this subconscious program usually believes they are worthy of love. They spend a lot of time in therapy trying to figure out why this keeps happening. The problem is, we can never solve a subconscious wound with our conscious, rational mind.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how much you practice mindfulness, if you don’t know why you have the problem in the first place. 

     Many of us have some kind of limiting problem that feels bigger than it needs to be. 

There is some area of our lives that we just can’t seem to master no matter how smart we are, how much therapy we’ve done, or how successful we’ve been in other areas of life.  Perhaps we have the perfect partner but can’t seem to find meaning in work.  We may be happy in every area of life but have a fear of flying.  Good news.  I have a new solution for you that works – and it’s your own Natural Technology that is available to you any time.   

     Anytime we cannot consciously understand or process a problem in our life, there is an invitation to look in the subconscious.  Developing an ongoing relationship to the subconscious, learning its language, and engaging it regularly has been the key to success for me and hundreds of those I’ve worked with in the last 10 years.   If you have a problem you can’t seem to solve in your life no matter how many things you’ve tried, I encourage you to explore approaching it through the subconscious in dream work, past life regression, astrology or Depth Psychology. 

Your life WILL change.


Erin currently practices as a depth psychotherapist in Denver, Colorado and via the internet around the world.  In addition to her dream work, Erin is a certified past life regressionist, an intuitive astrologer and a lover of travel, snowboarding, deep conversations and cooking delicious food, all of which she enjoys practicing while she sleeps.

Losing Connection through Connectivity ll Rich Brodt

Losing Connection through Connectivity

By: Rich Brodt

     An opinion is only that, an opinion. All opinions are valid as they are simply views or judgments based on one’s personal beliefs. Everyone is entitled to them. Everyone has opinions with which others strongly disagree. They are subjective, and certainly not conclusive.

     Opinions aren’t new. However, over the past couple decades we’ve seen the proliferation of social media platforms. It started with websites like MySpace and Friendster and has lead to social media apps like Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and various others that I am probably too out of touch to be fully up to date with. These platforms have some obvious benefits. Many marginalized groups are able to hold safe space in these places, often with anonymity that can protect their identities and allow them to share more freely, allowing feelings of acceptance and validation. This can be life-saving for individuals who feel misunderstood, rejected or isolated from their peers.

     There’s also a very dark side to social media that seems to be growing; it promotes shame for certain groups while attempting to empower others. If you use Facebook, for example, you should understand that there are algorithms in place, which are designed to simply feed you ideas that agree with your worldview. While this is happening on your computer screen, there is another individual who’s beliefs differ from you being fed information that further enforces his beliefs. The more each side continues to be spoon-fed information that justifies their beliefs, the more extreme those beliefs become.

Eventually, we stop seeing people as individuals and start to judge them solely based on their stance on the controversial topic du jour.

     This leads to conflict with no resolution. Both sides, dogmatic in their beliefs name-call, shame and poke one another until the whole thing devolves into chaos. Nothing is resolved. Both sides have their beliefs reinforced again, “I am right, and the other side is either stupid or evil.” Who, with a Facebook account, hasn’t at some point scrolled through an argument over a political post and seen the thread regress into name-calling, with words like “MAGA Moron” or “Libtard” being thrown around? No one wins and the two sides move further away from any common ground.

     This is where we are. We have a cataclysmic income gap, one of the worst healthcare systems of any developed nation, a huge national debt, mass surveillance, and politicians that seem to care less and less about the actual human beings that put them in office. And this is where we will stay if we insist on being so attached to our beliefs and unwilling to empathize with the positions of others. The political climate has been so divisive, so belligerent that many people honestly believe they can’t even have a conversation with another human being based on who that human being voted for, and without any knowledge of why they decided to do so. Let’s call that what it is: ignorant. You can talk all you want about how terrible/disgusting/dumb our current Commander in Chief is, but when you shut people down based on their voicing of an opinion that is different than your own, aren’t you doing exactly what you hate him for doing?

Connection with others, in and of itself, is the key to change.

     However, the connection we seek has damaged us. Social media platforms are exploiting flaws in our psychology. If you don’t believe me, put “facebook designed to be addictive” in your search engine, and you’ll find several articles referencing a Facebook creator’s admission that the platform was designed to exploit “a vulnerability in human psychology,” and that he fears what it is doing to the brains of children who use it regularly. Many of the other social media platforms, I would wager, were designed to exploit that same flaw. In essence, we get addicted to the feedback we get from social media, and so we return to it over and over again. We get a dopamine hit from writing a scathing response to someone. This phenomenon has caused such turmoil in our brains that we are actually giving ourselves a little chemical reward for publicly being terrible to another human being. This is highly disturbing.

     The way I see it, the more we’re looking down into our phones, computers and tablets, then the less we are looking at the faces of people we walk by on the street.

On the internet, things are safer, we can easily pick out the groups that share our opinions and sink comfortably into an echo chamber, where we can avoid true conflict resolution. This echo chamber then reinforces the most extreme parts of an individual’s beliefs by creating an environment where anyone who speaks out, however reasonably, in opposition is immediately ridiculed, bullied, shamed and often threatened. We can’t learn to reason intelligently about topics, and actually address the issues when there is no room for discourse. It is essential that, as individuals, we seek out and dialog with those who are different from us. I don’t think we need to step away from social media entirely, rather, I think we need to spend more time reminding ourselves that every individual we interact with is more than just a simple opinion, more than just a username and avatar, more than a meme. We are far too complex for that sort of reductive thinking.


Rich Brodt is a former intern at People House, and is currently a co-owner and private practitioner at Elevated Counseling, PLLC in the Highlands area of Denver. Prior to training to become a therapist, Rich practiced as a mental health litigation attorney in New York City, where he first became passionate about the field. Rich draws on knowledge of law, philosophy and poetry, bringing a unique perspective to his sessions.

Rich’s current practice utilizes a client-centered approach, integrating Gestalt, existential and depth approaches. He focuses his practice trauma and anxiety-related issues, including PTSD, high-stress careers, life transitions and other major stressors. Rich’s first priority in counseling is to create a safe, non-judgmental space, where clients can feel comfortable sharing and processing their most difficult thoughts.

 

Elevated Counseling, PLLC
2727 Bryant Street Suite 550
Denver, CO 80211
ElevatedCounseling.org
Ph: (720) 295-1352

Overcoming a Holiday Hangover ll Lora Cheadle

How to Overcome a “Post Holiday Hangover.”
By: Lora Cheadle

     Welcome to January! You know, that month where you realize that you did, in fact, gain too much weight over the holidays. And then, mid-month, when credit card statements come in the mail, you also realize that you spent way too money. And later on, near the end of the month, you realize that somehow, despite your best intentions, you have already blown your New Year’s Resolutions. In other words, by the end of the month, most of us feel some combination of being unhealthy, broke and depressed.

     But don’t despair! No matter how bad you blew it over the holidays, (honestly!) you can still recover. All it takes is a little forgiveness, awareness, and wisdom. With these three simple steps, you can get back on track and have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018, no matter what transpired over the holidays!

Forgive Yourself

     The first, and most important place to start, is in your own heart and soul. We all make mistakes. Yes, you may have drank too much, sent an embarrassing text, lost a job, spent too much money, quit working out, yelled at your sister; whatever. The first step is learning how to forgive yourself. Learning to love yourself, unconditionally.

     It doesn’t matter what you did. You did it. It happened, and you have to deal with it, and yourself. Forgiveness is not about absolving oneself from guilt. Nor is it about making excuses or laughing something off. It’s about digging deep, realizing the full extent of your mistake and owing what happened. It’s about understanding the full impact of your actions, the consequences to yourself, and those around you.

     It’s about identifying the emotions around your actions, feeling your shame, embarrassment, guilt; and dealing with those emotions. When we allow ourselves to feel and acknowledge our emotions, they guide us towards right action. Whether that means making amends, moving on or getting help for ourselves. Understanding our actions on an emotional as well as a cognitive level allows us to fully process and release our actions. Instead of stuffing our feelings down, we learn from them, and we grow healthier and wiser in the process.

     Truly forgiving oneself is not easy. Nor can it be accomplished overnight. Forgiveness is a process that, like grief, has many stages. Keep working on it! The past cannot be undone. Put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. If they did what you did, would you forgive them? We tend to be much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Extend yourself the same courtesy.

Understand the Impact of Your Behavior on Others

     Next, seek to understand your actions and the consequences of your actions. Not why you did what you did, but what you did Moving into the why’s tends to create blame. It doesn’t’ matter why you spent too much, reached out to your ex, yelled at your children, or got drunk. It only matters that you did.

     What is the result of your behavior? What did it create in your life that wasn’t there before? What are the consequences? Not the potential consequences or the watered down consequences, but the actual consequences to yourself as well as to others? Make a list. Ask around. Be open to learning, to understanding the impact of your decisions.

     Once again, put yourself in another person’s shoes. If someone had done this to you, what would you want them to do? Do that! Or quite simply, ask others what they would like you to do in order to make amends. Seek first to understand. Fix what you can fix. Let the rest go. It’s time to look forward, not back.

Rejoice in Choice

     One of the biggest mistakes people make when moving ahead and creating positive changes in their lives is putting too much pressure on themselves. Dreaming big is wonderful but we need to be realistic too. Dreams are not accomplished overnight. Two steps forward, one step back is to be expected. Remember the age-old question – How do you eat an elephant? The answer is – One bite at a time!

     Yes, you can get your finances back on track. You can lose the weight. You can be happy. But maybe not overnight. Every day we have multiple opportunities to choose. Choosing to make coffee at home instead of going out seems like a simple choice, but coupled with other small choices, it becomes monumental. Choose to smile, to hold doors open for others, to pack a healthy lunch. Choose to donate, swap or borrow instead of buy. Call your credit card company and ask to have your interest rate lowered. Read articles on managing debt. Take a walk. Go to the library and check out workout books or DVDs. Meditate. Pray. Choose kind words. Forgive others. Choose tolerance. Breathe in. Breathe out. Make every choice count.

     Grant Yourself the Serenity to Accept the Things you Cannot Change, the Courage to Change the Things you Can, and the Wisdom to Know the Difference

     Make a list of things you can control and all the things you can’t control. We can never truly control others, but we can always control ourselves. Yes, we may be fat, broke and miserable. Our life may indeed be filled with others who impact us negatively. We may be burdened by our own past actions. But we can’t control the past. We can only control ourselves in the future.

     We can control each moment, each choice, exactly as it comes to us. Each moment. And the moment after that. And the moment after that. Our lives are lived one day at a time. Days are nothing but a collection of moments, a collection of choices. Choose wisely. Remain conscious. It’s the only way to change your life.

     Forgive yourself. Witness and learn for your mistakes. Then choose again. The next moment is always there, presenting us with another opportunity to choose.

     So what do you choose? Joy, happiness, prosperity and health are literally just a collection of moments away. Every moment is a choice, and every choice moves us towards our goal or away from it. Accept that which you cannot change, and have the courage to create a future that you can be proud of. Yes, we can all be healthy, happy and prosperous. It’s simply a matter of choice.

Just like eating the elephant, life isn’t lived all at once. Life is lived in a series of bite-sized moments. Choose each moment wisely.


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!

Light and Dark: Living a Seasonal Mythos ll Mary Coday Edwards

Blog 21
Light & Dark: Living a Seasonal Mythos
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA

     Like a light dusting of snow covering a bleak industrial landscape, our religious leaders cloak crass and frenetic Christmas consumerism with a barren literal religiosity, embedding the Christ mythos into the Santa mythos in order to sanctify our materialistic voraciousness.

     For those of you who barely endure this season, can you scrape off that corrosive disdain and turn your gaze to a mythos of promise, perhaps through your own faith? Or instead mythologize these days through contemplation of the long nights and the returning of the sun/light, a mythos that gave succor to our ancient ancestors?

“If professional religious leaders cannot instruct us in mythological lore, our artists and creative writers can perhaps step into this priestly role.” Karen Armstrong

     A beautiful word, mythos, and infuses our lives with significance when understood in its original meaning. Myth is rooted in mythos, but it has come to mean a lie, a falsehood, or an untrue story.

     As defined in Karen Armstrong book, A Short History of Myth, myths contain universal and timeless stories that reflect and shape our lives. They provide narratives that remind us of what it is to be human, narratives that are reinforced through ritual. Our Western, enlightened society asks, “Did that actually happen?” while pre-Modern cultures were more concerned with what an event meant.

     Physicist-turned-theologian Ian Barbour in his Myths, Models and Paradigms, says a myth provides a worldview or world picture by endorsing particular ways of ordering experience and acting in daily life.

     We are a meaning-seeking species. At some point in their lives, most people will engage in mythological thinking: “It just wasn’t my time,” someone says, after barely escaping a calamity, not quite sure who or what might be controlling what’s going on behind the scenes, but only seeking to make sense of that avoided tragedy.

     In my late teens I let a rock star define my mythos. I lived out Paul Simon’s lyrics: “I am a rock, I am an island. I touch no one and no one touches me.”

     As an 18-year-old freshman at university I ate soybeans as a paid experimental guinea pig for a month so I could travel alone to the UK for three weeks: “I don’t need people,” I told myself.  Navigating a new culture at 18 where strangers compassionately came to my rescue more often than I cared to admit, I was lonelier and more miserable than at any other time in my life. I returned chastened.

     I took Simon’s song literally and isolated myself, whereas Simon’s universal truth/myth relates to being grounded inwardly in who we are, vs. being tossed about like a rudderless ship based on our perceived notion of others’ opinions of us—and therefore being under their control. One hour we’re up—“She said nice things about me! I’m so together!” and the next hour we’re down: “No one ‘liked’ my Facebook post. I am such a loser.”

     Unknown to me at the time, that traveling and insecure 18-year-old was living out other universal and timeless truths/myths, which Joseph Campbell names in his hero/heroine’s journey (Note 1).

     As an initiation from childhood to adulthood, the protagonist leaves the comfortable nest, experiences the road of trials with its tests, enemies, and unexpected allies, and returns wiser.

     I did return wiser: humans function best living in community. But because I was miserable, I wrongly concluded that I was incapable of making good decisions and jettisoned the entire adulthood effort and crawled back into childhood. I joined the Jesus Movement which soon morphed into an authoritarian hierarchy controlled by the patriarchy.  I regressed to the “father” controlling my life.

     And because—for those of who are mentally capable—adulthood/maturity is our destination, this mythos, too, would be rearranged. But that’s a story for another day.

What mythos informs your holiday season?

     When celebrating this season, many find themselves around the middle on a continuum with “Everything Non-Religious” on one end, and “Everything Religious” on the opposite—which this year includes Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism/Wiccan.

     Jesus may be ONE of the reasons for the season—but not THE reason. December 25? Fake news: Pope Julius 1 in the 4th Century officially designated it as Jesus’ birthday in order to Christianize the Pagan festivities already occurring around the Winter Solstice, OR the god Saturnalia, OR Mithra’s birthday the Iranian god of Light, OR the unconquered sun god of the Romans Sol Invictus, OR Egypt’s god Ra—take your pick. Most Christian historians and scholars believe Jesus could not have been born in the winter months of December, but MAY have been born in March. But look deeper: What’s the mythos embedded in this story? Titled the light of the world, Jesus calls us to be imitators of him. For those who follow Jesus, what does that look like for you?

     This year Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, began Tuesday, Dec. 12 and ends Wednesday, Dec. 20. Hanukkah centers around the lighting of the nine branches of the menorah, commemorating the successful Jewish revolt against their Greek-Syrian rulers in the second century B.C. The story goes that in rededicating the Jewish temple by lighting the traditional seven-lamp menorah, they found only enough uncontaminated ritual oil for one day. The one-day oil lasted for eight—thus Hanukah’s eight-day celebration. The menorah itself stands for light, wisdom, and Divine inspiration.

     Unlike other Jewish holidays, Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Jewish scriptures.  Is this mythos? Not necessarily an untrue story, but a story based in an actual event which contains universal truths for how Jews make sense of their world, truths that give meaning to their lives.

     Pagan and Wiccan celebrations of the Northern Hemisphere’s Winter Solstice remind us that the sun will return. It’s the promise of light returning to the world. Pre-Christ astronomers observed that at a certain point the days began to get longer—the season of starvation and pestilence was winding down. To ward off death and disease, centuries before Christianity the Scandinavian Vikings believed their sun god Balder particularly favored evergreens and hung them up to court his favor, while other Pagan cultures believed evergreens warded off evil spirits. Festivities sprung up, honoring what’s now called Winter Solstice.

     Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Pagan cultures prepared for their Advent—the return of the sun—by honoring the night, a time of rest and restoration for the land and its many creatures. Of course, minimal resources to spend on candles or torches encouraged this withdrawal into their caves—and perhaps into themselves, where stories, songs and poems spring from.

     During this season of Advent peace settles over me as I sink into the deep rhythms of nature and that transcendent Energy flowing through all life.

     Can the seasonal drift toward the coming light infuse your spirit with hope?  What symbols within your mythos resonate within you? Can you lift beauty from the core mystery of what remains? Can you be a light-bringer to those around you? Can you sit with the dark, the night—symbolic often for suffering—and contemplate what life holds for you?

     If any words in this blog pinged your psyche/spirit, sit with them mindfully: paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, and nonjudgmentally (Note 3).

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Notes & Sources:

1.) On myth: Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Carl Jung’s map of the soul, Clarissa Pinkola-Estes work on fairy tales, and Ian Barbour and John Polkinghorne on the intersections of science and religion.

2.) “Where did Christmas Come From?” https://biblethingsinbibleways.wordpress.com/tag/winter-solstice/; the author uses excerpts from various documents.

3.) Kabat-Zinn, Jon. The founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, calls this practice mindfulness.

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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:

The Lost Art of Patience: an Antidote to Stress and Chaos ll Dorothy Wallis

The Lost Art of Patience: an Antidote to Stress and Chaos

By Dorothy Wallis

     As the year winds down, you may still be feeling the intensity of the tumultuous changes that have been taking place in your life and in the world.  The Chaos discussed in October’s blog continues.  For many it has been a stormy and uncertain time not knowing what it means for the future of the children and upcoming generations, the economy, the environment and the human species.  On a more personal level, you may be anxious about your own future.  There is a heightened sense of concern about matters that were once taken for granted or ignored.  Major upheaval in the world is challenging to your sense of safety and security. 

     Anytime your safety or security is threatened there is an urgency to act.  Action may mean shutting down or protecting yourself in ways that create distance rather than connection.  The current challenges are pushing you toward both an internal and external purifying catharsis beyond primal reaction.  The opportunity presented is for you to realize your ability to choose.  You get to decide how you will respond.  You can move through the initial “whoosh” of dread, fear and anger by staying present to all of the physical and emotional sensations arising and allowing them to just “Be” without acting upon them.  You can choose to be with “what is” happening in the moment.  Having choice enables you to move from feeling helpless, powerless and at the mercy of your experience to one of knowing you are capable of going through it.  It gives you strength and authentic empowerment.  Staying present requires a commitment to being aware of your experience and patient with yourself.  

     Patience is a skill that takes practice.  It is easy to fall back into judging your ability to be still before acting or to not distract yourself from your experience.  Nothing in our culture reinforces patience: quite the opposite.  Being still, not talking, stopping before making a decision, contemplating, slowing down, daydreaming……any and all of these are not generally encouraged in our fast paced culture that rewards output and productivity.  When were you told that it was okay for you to take your time?  Just listen to our language about doing nothing: laziness, idleness, indolence, sluggishness, lethargy, dragging your feet, dawdling, dilly-dallying, procrastinating and even more demeaning indignations ad infinitum.  Being called a daydreamer, deadbeat, slug, bum, slacker, loafer, lazybones, airhead, procrastinator…or any variation of these, brings with it a blast of shame.  If you are not actively doing “something,” you are judged as “wasting” time or being indulgent and self absorbed.  Doing nothing is socially reprehensible.  We shame others and we shame ourselves.  Just notice your inner critic when you are “not doing.”  The closest we get to a socially acceptable mode of “not doing” is “Chilling out” and that usually happens when you are so overwhelmed or “burned out” that you have to stop doing or become ill.  Meditating is an exception because it is thought of as an activity.  Meditation is an intentional action, which is an excellent way to develop the stillness in patience.

     Patience is not your first response to stress or chaos.  Your first reaction is to quickly and as soon as possible get rid of the stress and calm down the chaos.  What usually happens is more stress and chaos from impetuously reacting to external events with alarm and drama.  It is an enormous task to subdue disturbances outside of yourself.  The idea of calming down the external chaos is a clue to the real antidote, which is to calm down your inner experience.  This is done through skilled Patience. 

     In order to have patience, you first have to be okay with the whole idea of being patient.  Instead of feeling guilty or pressured for taking your time, not acting quickly, and being thoughtful, you must know that there is great benefit to being patient.

The Benevolent Benefits of Patience

The stillness of patience calms the chattering mind.  Your parasympathetic nervous system quiets and composes the body into a harmonious rhythm.  Your mental, physical, and emotional health all improve through the friendly cooperation of a tranquil and balanced physiology.  When your body is working together in harmony and alignment, it functions better.  You think more clearly and are able to perceive what is actually happening around you.  Your ability to be informed from all of your senses is sharper.  Your intuition is heightened as the higher functions of the brain engage and connect with the compassionate wisdom of your heart.  Decisions you make use the entire scope of your knowledge and senses while extending your awareness to limitless dimensions.  Patience opens the gateway to creativity.  It is in the stillness that you are able to touch the deeper level where source wisdom resides. 

It is in the stillness that you are able to touch the deeper level where source wisdom resides.

     Patience is practical.  You make fewer mistakes with forethought and planning.  People skilled at patience are nice to be around; they are easy-going, even-tempered and generally unflappable.  They respond with attentiveness to others needs and so reach out with kindness and generosity.  The kindly atmosphere of patience extends to your personal well-being.  Stress and depression are diminished, as you are able to face annoyances and disturbances with less anxiety, frustration and despair.  You become more tolerant and forgiving of discord.  As your tolerance increases, you are able to persevere through difficulty and hardship, which enhances your ability to meet and achieve your goals.  

The Artful Practice of Patience

     Patience means “Being With” whatever is in your field of experience.  It is calmly waiting in times of adversity without the need to do or act.  There is an art to practicing the skill of patience.  It is both mindful and heartful.  A profoundly powerful way is to lovingly and quietly connect with your body while observing and feeling whatever is moving inside of you.  Your focus turns inward.  Instead of judging your experience with your thoughts, you are present to the physical sensations in your body while being equanimous with the feelings that arise.    

     Patiently staying present to the sensations and feelings increases your emotional resiliency as well as your ability to regulate your emotional reactions.  Emotional resilience is the “magic elixir” that increases your ability to handle stressful situations.  You are able to adapt to crisis and adversity without lasting issues.  Remarkably, this patient adaptability to crisis can allow a person to experience horrendous traumatic events without contracting PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

     Through the practice of waiting and observing, you develop a greater level of self-control and discernment.  Your thoughts do not jump to conclusions and you are less likely to automatically blame, project onto or dramatize outer events.  A calm mind and heart allows you to experience the subtle joys of life.  You see life as an ever-changing fluid terrain of impermanence.  Wonder and curiosity return and you experience with good humor, the mystery of life’s challenges and opportunities.

Patience is Felt and is a Gift for Everyone

     The current human and planetary crises can be seen as a “wake up call” and on an even grander scale seen as an advantageous design to raise the level of human consciousness.  Seen in this light, instead of contracting into isolation or allowing frustration to overwhelm you into destructive habits, with patience, you can skillfully expand into what is present and determine actions and behaviors that are beneficial for you and others.  You decrease the stress and chaos in the world through your patience. 

Giving the Gift of Patience brings Peace and Harmony into the World

      As you gather with friends, co-workers, family or are just “out and about” in your neighborhood during this holiday season, take time to stop, breathe and appreciate.  You make a difference in the world by practicing patience.  Each day take in the beauty of life, observe the hustle and bustle with delight, say a kind word to the cashier at the counter, slow down and allow the car merging into traffic to go in front of you, listen patiently to your partner, your child, your friend and to those you do not know and notice how your patience influences those around you.  Take time to give the Gift of Patience.  It will bring you an abundance of contentment and joy.


     Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice with an M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy.  She is an International Spiritual Teacher at the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years grounded in practices of meditation, family systems, relationships, and emotional growth.  Her work reflects efficacious modalities of alternative approaches to healing based upon the latest research in science, human energy fields, psychology, and spirituality. 

www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth