Archive for the ‘Growth’ Category.

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).

______

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.

_______

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

Life’s Interconnection, Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem ll Kate Heartsong

Blog # 3. Due Dec 1 2017

Life’s Interconnection, Self-Confidence and Self-Esteem

     Have you ever experienced walking into a room where the tension was so thick you thought you could “cut it with a knife”?  Or, how about when you’re suddenly thinking of a loved one, only to have that very same person call you shortly afterwards?  And how about the phenomena of birds turning exactly in unison while flying together?

     What explains all this is the concept of life being interconnected, also known as Oneness. There are many scientific studies proving that, at our most elemental basis, we’re all energy, and this is what causes the oneness/interconnectedness of life.   Lynn McTaggart, internationally known author and researcher, stated: “At our most elemental (level)…… human beings and all living things are a coalescence of energy in a field of energy connected to every other thing in the world.”

     I love this quote from John Pierrakos, a physician and psychiatrist:  “Energy and consciousness are in a continual state of interaction: energy is shaped and directed by consciousness which is itself driven by energy.”  What this means is how we feel about ourselves and how we show up influences those around us, because we’re all energy. 

     So, what does all this have to do with self confidence and self-esteem?  Everything!  For when you raise your self-confidence and self-esteem, not only do you feel better but this positively effects those around you.  When you feel confident, love yourself, and realize your gifts and skills, then you’re better able to show up more authentically with those around you. By doing this, you’re actually better able to give to others!  (And by the way, being self-confident and loving yourself is NOT egotistical.  It’s only being egotistical if you think you’re better than someone else!)

     Think about that! Yes indeed, you’re better able to give to others and also offer higher quality service.  And you’re a happier human being.

Wow, what would that be like, to be happy and to show up more fully for others with more joy and authenticity?

     So, are you beginning to see just how vital it is for you to build your self confidence and self-esteem?   It all starts with you! One person at a time! Yes, you can make a difference in your own life by raising your self-confidence and self-esteem, and in doing so you’re also making a positive difference  to those around you; in your work place; your home; along with your community and the city you live in, and……. also in the world.  This is because we’re all interconnected and we have a collective consciousness.    

     My invitation to you is to read my two previous self-confidence blogs and read books on this subject, google self-confidence articles, take workshops ( I have one coming up February 20th at People House), and take the journey of raising your self-esteem and confidence!  You deserve to live in joy.

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

Bored of Being Bored in Recovery ll Martha Fletcher

BORED OF BEING BORED – LEARNING TO COPE WITH BOREDOME IN RECOVERY

I knew a man once who died of boredom.  Of course not, that is ridiculous!  Yet, boredom can be blown out of proportion and lead to relapse in recovery.  Why?  First, it is important to know that  boredom does not cause relapse, but what we tell ourselves about being bored that is the problem.  So, what do we tell ourselves?  “I can’t stand being bored.  I should always be entertained. Things should always be interesting.   If I don’t do something about this, I am going to implode.  I feel trapped and anxious with nothing to do.  I hate this feeling, I need to drink to make what I am doing more interesting.  I need to escape this feeling.”  Solution:  Dispute the irrationality behind it.  “What do I mean I can’t stand it?  Will I die?   Will I actually implode?  Must things always be entertaining and interesting?”  Changing the irrational belief to rational will lessen the intensity of the discomfort and make boredom tolerable.  

     Secondly, boredom is simply a misdirection of mental energy.  It is the gap between focused and unfocused.  We usually experience this when we are tired.  The brain essentially struggles to focus on one thing and wanders because it is simply running out of fuel. 

Solution:  Rest, relax, mindfully embrace boredom as an experience that will shortly pass, not box you in and kill you.   

     We can also overcome boredom by taking charge of our mental energy and refocusing it.  Get deliberate:  What goals can you focus on?  Get inspired:  What motivates you?  What excites you?  What are you passionate about?  Take action:  What can you do to change your surroundings?  

What can you do to give your brain a rest and do something fun to kill the time? 

     Drinking, or engaging in any other type of addictive behavior, to deal with boredom is a maladaptive coping strategy that is reinforced every time we employ it and strengthens our urge to use.   Dealing with intense urges only takes up more cognitive fuel and will most likely leave us feeling tired and bored and wanting to use again to cope.   Employing new, healthy strategies (or habits), over time, will create new neuropathways, resulting in decreased urges, less boredom (or at least more tolerable boredom), and improved quality of life. 


Martha is passionate about coaching and teaching others how to live inspired, meaningful, and prosperous lives in recovery.  Her coaching practice utilizes a client-centered, evidenced-based cognitive approach.  Her focus is on helping women overcome addictive behavior through teaching effective coping strategies, self-management skills, unconditional self-acceptance, and creating a healthy-balanced lifestyle.  She also provides aftercare support to women in recovery who are struggling to navigate life after treatment with a focus on building healthier and happier lives that will sustain long-term recovery.

MRW Recovery Coaching
3035 W. 25th Avenue
Denver, CO 80211     
www.mrwrecoverycoaching.com
Ph: 720-515-0713

You Should (not) Be Ashamed of Yourself! ll Erin Amundson

You Should (not) Be Ashamed of Yourself!
By: Erin Amundson

**(Written and published with permission by the young man in question)

     I am continually honored to be invited into the deepest parts of other’s experience.  Recently, I sat down with a young man I happen to be related to and had a conversation that turned out to be all about shame.  Neither of us knew going in that we would head toward that most elusive, secretive, and important topic.  However, I’ve come to understand that the source of most human suffering is just that: shame.

     This young man began by talking about feelings. He was not feeling so good about himself as a person.  He confided in me that he had some secrets – he had done some things nobody else knew about.  These things caused others in his life to feel a great deal of pain. 

     He described having a sexual relationship with a girl that was dating one of his best friends.  He threw a co-worker under the bus rather than taking responsibility for a mistake at work.  This co-worker was fired.  He went on to say that there have been so many things he has done to hurt others that he couldn’t possibly name them all – the point was, he was feeling out of control and concerned that his behaviors would only get worse in time.  I agreed with him that without some exploration into his subconscious, they might.

     In the course of our conversation, his face became flushed.  I noticed his trembling and could hear him choke back the tears that wanted to fall.  Clearly this young man was in emotional hell.  He wondered aloud why he had done these things to people, and then very quickly claimed to be a “waste of space” who “never should have been born”.   In these words I heard the source of his actions and his suffering. 

This young man was trapped in shame.   

     I asked this young man to talk about the first time he could remember feeling like a “waste of space” – going to the source of the pain so that he could begin the journey to healing.  He described being bullied at a very young age.  He also described some pretty severe abuse by a sibling.  As I pieced together the details of what I already knew about this young man, I added the experience of abandonment (he was sent away to military school and the abusive sibling stayed home).   It was clear to me that he was given a lot of reasons to feel worthless in the world.  He learned shame at a very early age. 

     When we learn shame early on in life, before our brains are able to engage in a mature process of understanding, our ego identity is formed on this basis.  Shame becomes a trusted source of esteem.  Yes, it’s a painful esteem, but if we don’t know any differently, we remain comfortable with what is familiar to us. 

     It was clear to me that the actions that brought this young man my way were subconscious attempts to mirror his shame back to him so that he could address it.  In hurting others, he was re-creating the same low emotion that he experienced early in his childhood.  Much like the cycles of addiction, shame takes on a life of its own.  If it continues to go unaddressed, the levels to which we will go to experience shame continue to get greater and greater. 

We can actually become addicted to feeling bad about ourselves.

     This young man came to me saying he had a “dark side”.  The truth is, we all do.  And our psyche will do what it takes to illuminate it so that we can heal.  This man didn’t start out his life hurting others.  In fact, the pattern started with self-sabotage.  He would make mistakes at work and lose his job, or cheat on a partner when the relationship was just getting good.  He had a long history of hurting himself before he moved on to hurting others.  However, much like a chemical addiction, he began to need more and more shame in his life to get the same effects. 

     It is human nature to experience shame.  The sad truth is that shame is the source of suffering in many forms, including addiction, violence against others and suicide.  Our lack of permission to be vulnerable and our cultural belief that we should be able to navigate life on our own fuels the fire.  Not only that, but our culture actually supports the outlets of suffering that keep us in our shame by advocating substance abuse, eating disorders, consumerism and the myriad of ways that we numb out.

     I decided to share this heavy topic with you today because I believe it is truly a part of our calling as humans to return to love.  In order to do so, we must allow one another to be vulnerable as this young man was with me.  I’m not sure where this young man would have found himself had he not come to me to address his suffering.  I do know that it’s likely his actions would have continued to accelerate – perhaps to violence or suicide.  I am grateful that he trusted me enough to explore this issue, and felt it important enough to allow me to share his story with you with the hope that we might break the silence of suffering in our world. 

     With this, I invite you to consider how shame impacts your daily life.  When you make a mistake, how do you treat yourself?  Can you meet your imperfections with compassion, or do you have a tendency to treat yourself with harsh judgment?  Do you have people in your life you can truly connect to, be vulnerable with, and share your deepest secrets with?   Our ability to open up and share not only helps us to heal and connect, but provides permission for those around us to do the same.  So today, with you, I will consider how I can better show up for myself. 


 

All About Erin:

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.

Finding Sanctuary ll Rich Brodt

Finding Sanctuary

By Rich Brodt

     In my darkest times, I have turned to music. The obsession started early, and I was only 14 or 15 before I was regularly attending concerts with my now lifelong best friend. We were skateboarders at a time when skateboarding was not cool or popular, and we generally just did not find much acceptance within our very conservative hometown. We started making a habit of escaping into the Manhattan for a Saturday matinee at ABC No Rio or CBGB, or convincing one of our unwilling parents to drive us to some obscure punk show 40 miles away. Our parents couldn’t stand their kids dressing like punks and attending what they believed to be very dangerous concerts, which made it all the more vital for us. We’ve shared this connection since, visiting one another in different states to see our favorite bands play. Whenever I felt homesick or down, this music pulled me right out of it. There’s a feeling that comes from screaming and thrashing about with both friends and strangers that is impossible to replicate. It is at once cathartic and connecting. That visceral connection, I think, is the most important part. It gives the outside a place to feel like an insider.

That’s why I fell in love with punk and hardcore music.

     For a long time, I felt like that experience would be difficult to replicate with any other type of music. I loved that punk and hardcore more music was dirty, fast, gritty and to the point. You didn’t have to guess at what people were feeling. Everyone was in it together. If someone fell, 10 hands reached out to pick them up. The singer of the headlining act might pass you the mic to sing for a longer than appropriate portion of the song, or see that you got hurt in the pit and come ask how you’re doing after the show. We met strange people who lived lives we understood nothing about. We leaned against the walls of dirty clubs smoking cigarettes and had our eyes opened to a world of people who lived however they wanted to.

Most importantly, we were experiencing this unknown, surreal world together.

     Early this year, I was on the receiving end of a traumatic event at a hardcore show in Denver. I was injured, though not severely, but the entire incident unfolded unlike anything I had experienced at similar shows for the previous 20 years of my life. My sanctuary was no longer a place of comfort for me.  After I got over my initial disillusionment, I realized that I was already finding experiences here that were fulfilling me elsewhere, and that, perhaps it was the experience of connection that was most important part. Sharing one’s catharsis with other people, makes it that much more powerful. I liken this to the same way one might experience meditating alone versus meditating among a group of people with a singular intention. I came to realize that the scene that I grew up with was not the one I was experiencing in Denver. I couldn’t come to a new city and expect the same beliefs and values to be present. This was difficult for me.

     I was attached to the scene I grew up with, and with the feeling that it provided me when I was a struggling teenager. My attachment made it difficult for me to see opportunities for new experiences. Eventually, it was cemented for me that my identity did not need to be tied to a specific type of music. I needed, instead, to be open to the new experiences, while understanding that any expectations I placed on these new experiences were probably unreasonable. I needed to let go of the idea that my past experiences with music were somehow better or more unique than what other people were getting from the music that moved them.

     I found myself embracing a much more diverse group of musicians and musical genres. I allowed myself to be open to what the new people in my life were interested in listening to. In turn, they opened themselves to the music that was important to me. I’ve now been to countless hip-hop, rock, industrial and even electronic shows, and I’ve found that each is unique in what is offers. Each is valuable, and cathartic in its own right. Each was shared with me by someone who is deeply moved by that type of music, which has enriched my experiences greatly.

Music has always been an outlet for those who struggle.

     I believe we connect to the darkness, pain, joy and love that music is capable of creating. Perhaps it is a way for one person to  briefly connect with another as they pass in the dark, and these connections are moments of light.. These are the moments when, despite feeling separate or different from society as a whole, we can be a part of something bigger, deeper and more powerful. It’s where we find our people – the ones who give us hope through our hardest times, the ones who let us know that we belong to something bigger.


Rich Brodt is a former intern at People House with the Affordable Counseling Program, 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.

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

Feminism as a Path to Healing: Part 3 ll Mary Coday Edwards

Feminism as a Path to Healing, Part 3

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

     “Stop shaking your head …” said former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer to veteran correspondent April Ryan at a White House press briefing in March.

     “What??!!” went the collective gasp. “Who does Spicer think he is, telling this grown woman and an experienced journalist, what to do? Believing he knows what is and what’s not acceptable and proper behavior for her??”

     There are so many things wrong with this scenario. From the podium, to a room packed with journalists, he claimed the role of Supreme Being/Big Daddy, telling Ryan, a respected journalist, what her behavior ought to be and to “STOP” what she was doing – characteristics of the patriarchy: entitlement, command, and control.

Not to mention a white man bossing around an African American woman.

     If, in monotheism, God is man, man is God. Why does God look suspiciously like the ruling class? Why is Jesus, a Jewish guy from the Middle East, blond and blue-eyed? Gloria Steinem, My Life on the Road

     What in Spicer’s life created this sense of entitlement, that when push came to shove, out of his mouth spewed this automatic response? Well, he’s wealthy – to the tune of $14 million. Hand-in-hand with wealth comes entitlement (1).

     And the press describes him as a “devout Catholic.” We know this in detail because his feelings were hurt back in May when the Trump Administration didn’t invite him to a meet-and-greet with the Pope. But then the media widely reported on how an ecstatic Spicer sat in the front row snapping photos when he attended the International Catholic Legislators Network at the Vatican this past August.

As Simon Beauvoir wrote so elegantly back in 1949 in The Second Sex:

Man enjoys the great advantage of having a god endorse the code he writes;

and since man exercises a sovereign authority over women

it is especially fortunate that this authority has been vested in him by the Supreme Being.

[In monotheism and others], man is master by divine right;

the fear of God will therefore repress any impulse toward revolt in the downtrodden female.

     As a Catholic, Spicer’s saturated in patriarchal values and attitudes. I know this – I was raised Catholic. His religious leaders have been regulating and censoring women’s bodies, lives, and behavior for more than 2,000 years. It’s in his DNA. He is “master by divine right,” his god endorses “the code he writes.” These are the values Catholicism taught him.

I believe that the most serious violation of human rights on earth is the abuse of women and girls. Former President Jimmy Carter

     In 1998, Cooey, Eakin, and McDaniel edited the anthology, After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions, which examines the question: “Can our major world religions transcend their deeply and far-reaching patriarchal roots?”

     In this base line anthology, feminists from each major religion question if there is hope for their respective faiths, and if so, what needs to change; and how to re-appropriate “what they believe to be the liberating and even essential elements of their traditions, elements in scriptures or tradition that have seen suppressed, forgotten, or erased by patriarchal power relations and theory”(pg ix).

     Tackling Christianity in general, Cooey wrote the chapter, “Post-Patriarchal Reconstruction of Inherited Christian Doctrine.” Cooey concludes that patriarchy is not essential to Christian doctrine, quoting other researchers who argue that the earliest communities were radically egalitarian but then, like a sponge, early missionaries soaked up patriarchal values from the cultures they sought to evangelize. 

     She believes that through critical analysis of church teaching, Christianity has possible value [emphasis added] for an “egalitarian and environmentally harmonious existence.” This can only occur if patriarchal Christianity can insist upon the full integrity of women as women and the integrity of all who have suffered under patriarchy. Not only does the latter include humanity, but also the earth and other sentient beings. The Christian past has oppressed women as well as other human beings and our environment and its ecosystems.

Many, of course, experience that transformation like pushing a boulder up a mountain and have exchanged that struggle for spiritual paths that nourish the feminine vs. malign it. This includes contributor Emily Culpepper, in her chapter titled, “The Spiritual, Political Journey of a Feminist Freethinker.”

Protesting against images of the divine which justify grossly hierarchical, authoritarian, and violent practices.

     October 31 marks the 500th Anniversary of Reformation Day, an international Protestant religious holiday, commemorating Martin Luther’s nailing of his Ninety-Five Theses on the door of the All Saints’ Church in Wittenberg, Germany. Times haven’t changed much in 500 years: Luther was protesting against papal authority and its abuses.

     It’s time for another Reformation – and not just of Roman Catholicism, but of all Protestantism still steeped in patriarchy.

     Former President Jimmy Carter metaphorically nailed his succinct protest on the door of the Southern Baptist Convention when he said as he withdrew from the Convention after six decades: “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].

     Just as the infrequent bright star shines through a murky, polluted sky at night, so occasional leaders and branches of Christianity have promoted a divinity which doesn’t discriminate based on race or gender.

     It’s worthy of note that Spicer commanded Ryan twice to stop shaking her head. Patriarchy doesn’t control her.

     Like heavy and clunky baggage, many of us still struggle lugging around this supervisory patriarchal authority unconsciously within us. While reading this blog, if any feelings or emotions surfaced or twisted around in your body, such as sadness, anger, tears, a fight or flight reaction, I suggest you mindfully reflect on those emotions, waiting for any truth or memory that may be seeking to surface. Emotions are our teachers – they are not good or bad.

     Whatever you experience, don’t push it away but stay with it, welcoming this wisdom of transforming power and energy. And practice mindfulness, as Jon Kabat-Zinn taught (3):

Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose,

in the present moment,

and nonjudgmentally,

to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) Buchheit, Paul. https://inequality.org/research/era-wealthy-entitlement/

2.)Editors Cooey, Paula M.; Eakin, Willilam R.; and M cDaniel, Jay B. After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions.  Orbis Books, New York. 1998.

3.) Kabat-Zinn, Jon. The founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, calls this practice mindfulness

 


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:

Dancing in Chaos ll Dorothy Wallis

 

      Daily, you are being bombarded with news of disasters, endless tragedies, and destructive and dehumanizing behaviors causing you to be more aware than ever of the Chaos happening in the world.  These random and outrageous events affect your sense of stability and security and may leave you feeling confused, disturbed, helpless and frightened especially when those unpredictable events cause death and destruction.  You are connected in a way that you never have been before.  Instant news and the Internet have created a dense enmeshed information web that envelops the globe.  In any moment you can hear about a catastrophe at the farthest outpost on Earth.  Your body knows even before your mind.  You are feeling it energetically.  You are connected through more than just the wireless radio waves that carry information.  You are a cell in the body of humanity.  Whether you like it or not, you are in a constant reciprocal flow with the human electromagnetic field coursing through your heart and processed through your body and brain.

      Even when you don’t watch the news or get on social media….somehow, you still feel the disruption.  Achieving a sense of harmony takes effort.

     Your consciousness is extending far beyond the confines of your individual body.  Your body is receiving massive amounts of energy and information.  This is a new development and it takes a lot of energy to process and integrate these phenomena.  Your body is adjusting and learning how to assimilate these experiences and make sense of what is happening in the world.  The magnitude of chaotic events may leave you with a deep sense of vulnerability.  You are unable to exert control to stop these events.  This may bring about hyper-awareness, anxiety, and stress or your body may respond by shutting down with a sense of being drained and fatigued.  Any of these physical reactions may cause confusion and disorientation with accompanying emotional reactions.  You may find yourself tense, irritable, worried, fearful, and angry or you may become detached, withdrawn, sullen or depressed.  Your personal response is a natural strategy used to protect you from physical and emotional pain and overload.

     Unfortunately, these strategies are not especially conducive to achieving the healthy equilibrium necessary for optimal day-to-day functioning or for managing your reactions to the chaos.

 

Making Sense of the Chaos

Why is there all of this chaos and why does it seem to be intensifying?    

     Humanity is linking together.  For the most part, we are no longer isolated into small villages unaware of other communities and cultures.  Modes of travel and the Internet have shortened the distance between all of us.  The body of humanity is coalescing into a global community of disparate as well as resonant cultural proclivities.  We come together from all walks of life and all levels of development.  This interconnection creates an awareness of actions and behaviors of others that are not in agreement.  These opposing views and values often clash as they meet and create chaos.  Chaos is messy.  Chaos is destructive because it breaks down patterns, behaviors, and structures that no longer work as we grow, change and form a larger community.

Chaos is a Part of the Creative Process

      Have you noticed a proliferation of odious, perverse, thoughtless, heartless, abusive, or inhumane treatment of others surfacing in the world?  You are witnessing the dredging up of shadowy human behaviors that destroy life.  This destructive phase of chaos is rampant across all forms of life.  It is disturbing and it is supposed to be. 

      It is a time when you must be accountable and responsible for your thoughts, emotions, and physical actions.  You cannot accept or look away from harm.  If the human species is to survive, you need to be aware because what each one of us does affects us all in a way it never has before.  Chaos is a natural process of growth that shines a light on behaviors that sift out what no longer works to sustain life and restructures them into greater life giving forms.  As you become aware of others actions and behaviors it prompts you to look within at your own.  What attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and actions separate me from others and life and which ones create connection?  You are given the opportunity to become aware of what motivates you, supports your growth, offers meaning and purpose and expands you and what does not.

     As you ponder your own beliefs, you may discover that some of your values shift.  Some of your values may be in conflict with others that you hold.  This internal chaos is a creative process that encourages inquiry.  What is harm?  What is life sustaining?  How can I expand my perspective to include a broader view?  You begin to realize there are no solid answers and more questions arise.  This is growth in action.  You open up parts of yourself that fear, parts of yourself that want everything to remain the same or to radically change, to parts of yourself that want to isolate and parts that want to join with others.  You may have judged parts of yourself as harmful and others as helpful.  Can you begin to see that all of these parts came in at one time for a purpose? 

You are dancing in the Chaos of internal inquiry.

You Need Chaos In Your Soul to Give Birth to a Dancing Star

 ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

     Friedrich Nietzsche spoke of this internal chaos as a form of individual creativity, which when “sought through the acquisition of self-knowledge results in a dancing star, or a unique contribution to the world.”

     Waking up to your inner chaos allows your unique perspective and gifts to illuminate the human condition.  You find parts of yourself that you vehemently reject and see the violence that you enact upon yourself through this rejection.  As you deepen your awareness, you join with discordant parts within yourself and see each of their origins, how they grew into patterns of behavior and reactions.  You develop compassion for these parts.  You begin to let go of fighting or resisting these elements and embrace them for what they offered or still provide.  Loosening the grip of resistance allows a relaxation into acceptance and release.

     Your perspective expands to include a deeper knowing and love of your true Self.  

     All growth moves through this process of Chaos.  The deconstruction and dissolution of the old must take place to make way for the new.  It is happening for you on an individual basis at the level of development that is right for you.  It is happening collectively in the world…again at the pace and next level of development that is appropriate for each person and each community.  Humanity contains all stages and levels of consciousness.  It is a great challenge to integrate into a harmonious whole.  As each person takes responsibility for their own internal development and allows the internal chaos to work its magic of restructuring, the entire world benefits. 

     A great example of visually seeing how chaos is necessary for growth is watching a demonstration of Cymatics.  Sand or other fine particles are placed upon a plate to which various frequencies of sound vibrate the plate.  Each frequency forms a structured pattern.  As the frequency increases, the particles go into chaos allowing the old structure to dissolve before a new pattern of increasing complexity forms.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvJAgrUBF4w

     As you grow and change, you move through periods of chaos and each time you do, you reach a new frequency of development and maturity.  You develop knowledge and wisdom.  You embody a completely new form because your old beliefs and structures are no longer relevant.  It is a constant movement into higher stages of consciousness. 

     Our world is increasing in complexity and as it does it moves through these periods of chaos.  It is a time of tremendous transition as we journey toward becoming a harmonious global community.


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

Me Too ll Lora Cheadle

 

To Those Who Cannot Say #metoo

I’m not sure if was the firing of Harvey Weinstein that started the #metoo movement, but reading other people’s stories, seeing the antagonistic comments against those stories, and reflecting on my own experiences, made me realize how my own thought and beliefs about sexual assault and sexual harassment were as much as a part of the problem as the actual perpetrators were. This personal revelation made me realize that unless our society-radically changes the way it looks at sexual assault and sexual harassment, we will never be able to quell this epidemic.

And who am I to talk? After all, I haven’t been raped. I’m not one of them. I can’t write #metoo on my status.

     As a former lawyer, and now Life Choreographer™ – my unique version of hypnotherapist and life coach – I’m well trained at listening to other people’s stories without judgment. It has always been my job to listen to people and to accept where they are, without question. Once I understand where a client is at, mentally, spiritually and emotionally, then I am capable of assisting them. Whether in the legal arena or the therapeutic arena, the first step is seeking to understand. Not agree necessarily, but to understand.

     To understand another’s pain, whether or not I can relate to that pain, or whether or not I believe that pain is valid, is the necessary first step to creating change or finding a resolution. When a client had a crippling fear of crossing bridges, I did not downplay that fear as irrational. I sought first to understand how debilitating that fear was. When I had a client who compulsively gambled away his paychecks, I didn’t shame him. I sought first to understand his compulsion and crippling shame when he failed to control his addiction. When I had a morbidly obese client, I sought to understand his emotional baggage and self-loathing. I did not blame him for years of overeating or accusatorily ask him what he did to cause his weight gain. But that’s not what I did when I first hear about #metoo.

But maybe it’s because I’m not one of them. Maybe it’s because I can’t write #metoo on my status.

     When I first heard about #metoo, what went through my mind was, “Great idea, but that’s not something I’m a part of. I’ve never been raped, my life has been blissfully trauma-free. I am the healer, not the victim, this is not me.” But as those words passed through my mind, for the first time, I heard how wrong they were. I suddenly say how my way of thinking was the problem. I saw how my thoughts encapsulated the beliefs of our society and how they were perpetuating the problem.

     Just about every female I know has been sexually harassed. Not just harassed, like one might be harassed in some minor traffic altercation or for wearing an opposing team’s colors at a sporting event, but sexually harassed or intimidated specifically for being a woman. And we – the women out there who have been harassed so routinely that we become so used to this behavior that we don’t even see it as a problem – sit in blissful ignorance claiming that what we’ve been though is no big deal, then things desperately need to change.

I’m deeply supportive of women, but have nothing to share. I’m not one of them. I can’t write #metoo on my status.

     My sexual harassment stories were always less than someone else’s. And because my stories were less than full-blown, violent rape, then in my mind, they weren’t relevant or valid. In my warped mind, because nothing had ended up happening, I hadn’t been assaulted. In my mind, unless actual, full-blown rape, with a police report and a trial happened, what had happened to me wasn’t important.

     I know that not all rape is at gun point in a dark alley. I know that the vast majority of rape is not the stereotypical image of rape that our culture holds so dear. Yet my thoughts and behaviors reflected that it had to be just that, or the incident didn’t count. Unless it was real rape or real assault, it was commonplace and could be dismissed.

     To be clear, I am not counting the numerous creeper, awkward, offensive-but-not-harmful experiences that I have faced in my life. We as humans are fallible, and we make mistakes and to me, those types of experiences are not sexual harassment. To me, a man putting his hand on my hip and whispering, “How married are you?” is a creep. And although I dislike it, I am not intimidated, harmed or fearful. I categorize that as stupid human behavior and I move on. As do many women. So no, don’t tell me horror stories about women who ruin men’s lives by crying “assault!” when all the man has done is asked her out on a date. Like the “How married are you!” man, these women are stupid, fallible humans. We all make mistakes. So let’s not talk about the anomalies, let’s talk about the majority.

     The greater, societal problem lies in the fact that our culture still thinks that anything short of full-fledged, violent rape is not sexual assault. Apparently there is a piece of me that thinks this too, or I would have instantly realized that I am a part of the #metoo sisterhood as well.

Could I be one of them? Dare I write #metoo on my status?

     I have had men surround me in parking lots while heckling me, and telling me what they wanted to do to me. I have men grab my shoulders and force-kiss me, grab my hand and put it on their secretly exposed penis, and hold me down as they dry-hump me. I’ve had men threaten to tell people that “I did something with them” unless I did, actually, do something with them. I had a boss ask me to meet him in the office at night, and then tell me, “Never mind” after I said my boyfriend was going to drive me. I’ve been offered special projects by professors, making class time unbearable. I have had men expose themselves and grab at my clothing and body. Yet, in my warped mind, I haven’t been sexually assaulted. Just because nothing ended up happening. It’s all magically washed away!

     Dude! That bullet missed your head by a full inch! You weren’t actually killed. Let it go! I don’t understand why you are still so upset. You were stupid enough to be walking in that neighborhood after dark without a bullet-proof-vest. What were you thinking? Don’t you dare ruin that poor guys live by charging him with attempted murder. Nothing happened. Deal with it.

     This is the kind of thinking that permeates society and keeps us trapped. As long as people think like I did, then there is no hope of quelling this epidemic. The statistics of one of five women being sexually assaulted will stay the same. Men will not learn. Women will not learn, and nothing will change. Until we acknowledge the fact that one can be being sexually assaulted or harassed and walk away, without a full-blown incident occurring, nothing will change. This is not how it works for any other crime except sexual assault or sexual harassment.

      And men, maybe you too should be writing #metoo on your status. Maybe none of the men who harassed or intimidated me had any intention of doing anything more than what they did. Maybe they were all good people, making poor choices. But I didn’t know that. Seek first to understand. Understand that women don’t know that you are only joking. That you have no intention of taking it further, or of harming them for real. Maybe you should put #metoo on your status if you have ever inadvertently scared a woman like this.

Because until we all work together, and change our thinking, this epidemic will never change.

#metoo.

Building Confidence in Recovery through Self-Acceptance ll Martha Fletcher

Building Confidence in Recovery through Self-Acceptance
By Martha Fletcher

Because one believes in oneself, one doesn’t try to convince others.  Because one is content with oneself, one doesn’t need others’ approval.  Because one accepts oneself, the whole world accepts him or her.

Lao Tzu

Self-confidence is contingent on our self-view.  That is, our perception of personal worth and competence.  A healthy self-view starts and ends with self-acceptance.  When we reject any part of ourselves by holding the beliefs we are inferior and incompetent, our confidence in our abilities and judgment becomes unstable and insecure.  To have self-acceptance is to love ourselves unconditionally!

Self-worth is determined by how we measure our personal value.  When we measure our worth against external values, such as wealth, success, popularity, status, and beauty, the value we assign ourselves begins to decrease when we fall short of how we believe we “ought” to be.  When we measure our worth against our mistakes, flaws, and struggles, the self-view takes on an inferiority complex.  Finally, when we base our worth on acceptance of others, the self-view becomes fragile and defensive which determines the quality of our interpersonal relationships.

Cultivating Confidence

We can start strengthening the foundation of our confidence by creating a healthy sense of self. 

This includes unconditional self-acceptance.  We can cultivate self-acceptance in the following ways:

  • Choose self-compassion and love over judgment and criticism. You can do this by recruiting your inner critic to be on your side instead of on your case.
  • Choose acceptance over rejection. What part of yourself are you rejecting?  Take that part and embrace it with open arms like you would the person you love the most.
  • Don’t take things personally. What people say and do is a reflection of their own pain and suffering.  It has nothing to do with you!
  • Selfvalidate. Validate yourself through honoring personal values and striving towards self-improvement. Love yourself from your heart, not through the eyes of others. Take what you want others to say about you and create an affirmation and repeat it to yourself.
  • Your mistakes are not part of your identity. Mistakes are not a measure of self-worth.  Mistakes are behaviors.  We are not our behaviors.  Forgive yourself and use them to make better choices in the future.
  • Find the treasure in your struggles. Where you stumble is where you will find your greatest treasure. When life trips you up with struggles and problems, there is a treasure at your feet.  Look for it!
  • Stay focused on the positive. What do you like about yourself?  Build a shrine to your strengths and values.
  • Accept limitations without judgment. Each and every person has limitations.  You are part of the human race.  Expect it!  Accept it!
  • Evaluate yourself independently instead of comparing yourself to others. Life is not a competition.  Always do your best and know that is the best!

Self-worth and Addiction

The cycle of addiction is fueled by a negative self-view.  Feelings of low self-worth sound like, “I’m not good enough; I’m a failure; I’m not important; I’m worthless.”  At the heart of unhealthy emotions like anxiety and depression is an intolerance to events that are perceived as personal failures or rejection by others, which can lead to self-destructive behavior.  The judger is always watching and waiting for the next mistake, failure, or rejection so it can criticize, shame, and repeatedly punish.  The reality is we all fail, we all are rejected at times, but in no way to these determine our value.  We can learn to cope with these realities by developing self-acceptance.

Self-acceptance is crucial to building confidence and a healthy sense of self in recovery.  It is not something we are born with, it is something we learn, practice, and master over time.  We need to throw away the ruler in which we are measuring our self-worth and start practicing self-acceptance.  This means talking to oneself with love and compassion, focusing on strengths and values, taking pride in our accomplishments, forgiving ourself, and changing the meaning we give our mistakes, failures, and flaws.  Perhaps the need to be valuable is mistaken for the need to make our life important and meaningful.  We can make our life count in the way we enrich the lives of others, living with purpose and meaning, the contributions we make, through an appreciative and grateful attitude towards life, and through love and acceptance of ourselves and others.


Martha Fletcher is a visiting practitioner at People House, and is owner and private practitioner at MRW Recovery Coaching.  Martha graduated summa cum laude with a BA in psychology from Hunter College, City University of New York and is a certified addiction recovery and life coach through New York University, New York State OASAS and Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery.  She is also a trained SMART Recovery facilitator and founder of Books4Recovery. She recently received her certification in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy through the Albert Ellis Institute and Illinois Certification Board.

MRW Recovery Coaching
3035 W. 25th Avenue
Denver, CO 80211
www.mrwrecoverycoaching.com
Ph: 720-515-0713

Spirit, Soul and Personality – Reaching Enlightenment After Death ll Lora Cheadle

Spirit, Soul and Personality – Reaching Enlightenment After Death
By: Lora Cheadle

“It’s weird. You know me better than people who have known me for years, but we’ve never met and we’ve only talked twice.”

As an angel reader and intuitive, I get comments like this a lot. But I still love explaining why this is the case. You see, when we meet people in the context of normal life, we meet as our personalities. We meet with some sort of an agenda. Either we are in a professional arena or a social setting. Often times we know what we are supposed to do or to be with that person. We need something from them, or we need to be something for them. Whether it’s to impress them with our intellect, our looks, or our abilities, meeting people is always somewhat about sales because every relationship is ultimately about some sort of transaction. 

But during a reading, I don’t meet you as your personality. I meet you as your soul and as your energy. There are no preconceived notions about anything and there is nothing I want from you, or you from me, other than my impression of your energy, your soul. Which is why readings are such meaningful experiences for people.

How do Intuitive Readings Work?

Rarely do we have our own energy, our own soul reflected back to us in such a pure state, without judgment, comment or editing of any kind. And the experience can sometimes be jarring because it brings to light all that we are inside, all the truths that we keep hidden from the world, not because they are bad, but simply because we aren’t used to expressing in such a deep way. Which is why intuitive readings can be so valuable.

During a reading I will probably not tell you anything that you don’t already know. But I will express exactly what’s been rolling around in your own mind and heart for a very long time. Which is probably the reason why you sought a reading in the first place! And that can be earie. Because I might say exactly what you are thinking but aren’t admitting to yourself. But it will be something that you needed to hear in order to process and move forward.

It’s kind of like mind-reading, only it isn’t. We all have thoughts that go through our brains but that we don’t say out loud or even acknowledge to ourselves. Even if these things aren’t said, they still create an energy that is tangible, or readable to people who perceive energy. So when you are thinking that you don’t really love your spouse, or are visualizing a life in a different part of the country, with a different job, that is the energy that I perceive and share back to you. Which can sometimes feel startling. Because sometimes you don’t even realize you are having these thoughts or feelings. But I do.

How Does Mediumship Work?

Mediumship, or communicating with deceased people, is similar. The soul is pure and doesn’t require a body, brain or a personality. During readings, whether the person being read is living or dead, it’s the energy of the soul that I tune into. Not the personality. I read their soul energy, which is separate and distinct from the body’s energy and transcends physical boundaries.

Death and Enlightenment

This is also why there is a certain amount of added clarity after a person crosses to the other side. Yes, personality is still there, but over time, personality takes a backseat to the soul. The deceased person becomes more their soul and less their personality.

No, death does not make a soul omniscient, instantly wise or suddenly enlightened, but it does allow for a higher perspective. Being unbound, or “lightened” from the body and brain and personality gives the soul room to take center stage. We become more ourselves, because we are unencumbered by that which is not us.

Life Lessons Post-Death

By way of example, this morning I was talking to my Grandmother who passed away three years ago. I asked her why she was sometimes so difficult to deal with in life. Why she sometimes cut off her nose to spite her face. This would not have been an appropriate question to ask her while she was alive nor would she have been able to answer it honestly because of the blocks from her brain and personality. But three years post-death she was able to give me a beautiful and complete answer from her soul.

Her marriage had not ended up the way she had wanted it to, but she was dedicated to the idea of the stability that marriage was supposed to bring. She kept alive a glimmer of hope that her husband would one day see her radiance, be humbled by all that she could offer in a relationship and fall hopelessly in love with her for choosing him above all the rest. She never received this adulation from him and she knew, on a soul level, that she was not supposed to point it out to him. His challenge was to see it on his own. Her challenge was to wait.

But this waiting was more painful than she wanted to endure and it interfered with her relationships with others. Frustration with his inability to see her for who she was, coupled with her inability to force him to see, caused her to over assert herself in other areas of life. She was attempting to balance out the deficiency in their relationship by forcing herself on others in the way she wished she could force herself on him. Which was perfect, in a twisted, karmic sort of a way.

The more she stood up for herself and demanded exactly what she thought she deserved from others, the more others backed away from her. All of us, her friends and family, saw this behavior as part of her personality, but failed to see what was really happening with her soul. The more difficult she became, the more frustrated others became with her, the less her husband thought of her, and the worse he treated her. The worse he treated her, the more she fiercely asserted herself, and a downhill cycle ensued. Which was sad, for everyone involved on a human, personality level.

But on a soul level we knew, and we didn’t judge ourselves as right or wrong, good or bad in any of this. Had we been operating on a soul level, so much would have been clarified and rectified. He would have known her need to be seen. We could have communicated her position to him if he hadn’t. It all would have been seen and understood by all of us. But we were all just personalities, brains and bodies and despite what we knew on a soul level, we still let our personalities rule and we perpetuated the cycle. Which was our collective lesson.

How Intuitive Readings Help the Living

Which is why intuitive readings or speaking with a medium is so valuable. Readings give us the opportunity to check in with our souls and our energy, to get our personalities and brains out of the way and to get perspective on whether or not we are living our highest good and best interest. Readings help break us out of our personality and our human desires, connecting us to something greater, and more en-lightened!


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!

After the Deluge ll Dorothy Wallis

After the Deluge
By Dorothy Wallis

     Imagine people stranded for hours and days on rooftops, in homes, in cars, sleeping on freeways, and people wading through neck high water filled with rodents and snakes in an attempt to find safety.  Imagine what it is like to be trapped inside a building or car and wondering if you will be found or rescued.  Imagine being out in the elements drenched, cold, tired, hungry, carrying babies and children trying to find your way to a shelter overflowing with people.  This is not a movie…this is the reality in the 4th largest city in the United States, underwater in an unfathomable deluge.  Of course you have heard about the catastrophe in Houston.  Yet, the realization of the magnitude of this disaster is hard to imagine.

   

     Presently, there are over 32,000 people in shelters.  People were air lifted from hospitals, and nursing homes.  Other people are bravely and dramatically rescuing those still stranded, using helicopters, boats, kayaks, canoes or anything that floats including air mattresses, and even carrying people on their backs to safety.  The doors of community centers, schools, churches, mosques, temples and many businesses have opened to house people and do whatever is necessary to help people and animals survive the flood.  Ranchers on horseback are driving cattle out of floodwaters while some reluctant and frightened animals are being dragged out.  With human lives being a priority, many animals are lost or left behind.  Currently, there are volunteers and organizations from other states coming in to find, rescue and shelter animals.  Amid the horror of the storm and the devastation and destruction, acts of courage and compassion are evident.

 

Dealing with Loss

     People are still missing.  People have died.  In the coming weeks, loss will be felt.  Not just the loss of homes and possessions, but the loss of a sense of safety, security and a former sense of normalcy.  Entire communities have been destroyed.  It is estimated that as many as 40,000 homes have been wiped out and thousands more damaged.  Hurricane Harvey in Texas and Louisiana has affected 13 million people.  Schools, grocery stores, churches, businesses and all normal functions of life are gone.  In moments of danger survival is all that matters.  There is no time to think or feel except how to get to safety.  The physical and emotional impact is momentarily put on hold.  In the days that follow, thousands of people will feel the shock and despair of enormous loss and wonder how they can create their life again. 

     This is trauma.  The stories of the traumatized and the terror that individuals experienced will be alarming.  People are dealing with nightmarish and unexpected danger that sounds otherworldly.  One man was torn up by a colony of fire ants floating on the water.  Another man watched hordes of them crawl up any solid surface they could find.  A woman and her children trapped for five days were finally rescued and brought to a shelter.  Wide-eyed and in shock, she and her children were cold, water logged and hadn’t eaten in days.  Emotionally, in a state of panic, fear and anger, she was spent.  Finally finding shelter, her emotions emerged in a roar.  Her “Mama Bear” came out strong and fierce; there was no ignoring her demands to get her children food and warmth.

     Emotions will be heightened as the reality of the situation begins to arise and the tension and emotions that have been held inside surface.  It will take time for the full impact to be known.  After getting people out of harms way, the first response in a disaster of this proportion is to provide food, shelter and the basic necessities to those in need.  We know how to provide for the physical needs.  Humans come together in disasters and unify against a common foe.  Human chains formed in Houston to rescue people and animals.  Immediately there has been a compassionate outpouring of volunteers, donations of money, food and clothing, and people providing space in their homes and sheltering animals. 

Softening the Blow of the Emotional Aftermath

     Providing for the emotional needs in the aftermath is more challenging.  Once people have those basic needs met and the immediate crisis is over, those affected are often left to fend for themselves.  The aftermath of a catastrophe is the most daunting.  Helping people deal with their acute feelings of vulnerability is essential.  Connection with others is key, which helps a person know they are not alone and that someone cares. 

     It has been found that post traumatic stress syndrome, PTSD, can be minimized or even eliminated when a person is able to freely talk about their experience with someone supporting and accepting their emotions and their story.  This includes validating the traumatized persons experience, comforting them, and assuring them that they are safe and that there is an available system of support to help keep them safe.  Knowing that you are safe reduces the flush of fear activation in your body. 

Allowance and Acceptance Restores Equilibrium

     After experiencing trauma, it is normal for emotions to arise apparently without any provocation.  A life-threatening event throws you out of balance.  There is a sense of being “out of control” and an awareness of being at the mercy of random over-powering forces.  Much of the feeling of safety occurs when you are able to know you are capable of controlling some aspect of yourself.  By allowing yourself to gently experience the intense emotions that cycle through and learning how to cope with them rather than shutting them down is healing.  

     Often people feel they are helping someone by telling them to “quiet down, stop crying, quit being so angry and emotional, be calm,” which might temporarily shut down the emotional reaction, but is actually a disservice.  Emotions are a vibrational charge of energy coursing through the body.  That energy has to go somewhere and will sit inside unless there is release and resolution.  It Is better to help by encouraging the person to feel safe with their emotions and let them know it is normal to be having intense emotions after a life-threatening shock.  This validates their personal experience and lets them know that they are okay and will regain their equilibrium.

     Release happens when you consciously touch and feel the sensations of the emotion allowing the energy to flow and dissipate.  It can be scary to feel the intensity because there is the perception that the emotions are uncontrollable.  Being patient, compassionate, and taking as much time as needed to slowly feel the emotions and stopping when it gets too much helps you to know you are capable of managing the flow. 

     Disturbing and reoccurring thoughts are also common after a traumatic experience.  It is a natural part of the healing process for these thoughts to come up and will diminish over time when given the proper support.  Resolution occurs when you realize the event is past and can accept the reality that it happened, you have skills and resources that showed up, you survived, and you are stronger and grew through the experience.  Instead of seeing yourself as powerless, you see how the experience fostered a greater realization of your ability to thrive and to meet life.  This gives you the confidence to create your life and move forward. 

Challenge, Growth and Opportunity

     Whether you are one that is experiencing trauma, has in the past, or are someone reaching out to help someone in distress, in truth, we are all in this together.  As you feel compassion and empathy for your own vulnerability your heart can expand to touch this very human quality and see that growth and resilience are found within the core of your most tender parts.

     For all of the loss that is part of this tragedy, there is the opportunity for much growth and wisdom to occur.  Humans are resilient and though we often focus on the darker aspects of our nature, adversity also brings forth the unifying higher qualities.  Pay attention to all of the stories of miraculous rescues and story after story of courageous shining examples of selfless bravery and giving.  See all who are uplifting and supporting their brethren.

     Let us praise those characteristics and bring a greater awareness in our daily lives to love our fellow beings and give support and encouragement.

 

Let the music keep our spirits high
Let the buildings keep our children dry
Let creation reveal its secrets by and by, by and by
When the light that’s lost within us reaches the sky

~ Jackson Browne “Before the Deluge”


     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

Building Self-Confidence ll Kate Heartsong

Building Self-Confidence

By: Kate Heartsong  

Self-confidence is an important foundation for all areas of our lives. 

Self-confidence:

– impacts how we interact with others and how we relate to ourselves

– effects how we perform at our jobs or our own business

– is responsible for how easy or hard we experience life changes

– gives us our ability (or inability) to step outside of our comfort zone and try new experiences

– and more

     We all benefit from having a healthy level of self-confidence, whether it’s the type of self-confidence that’s related to self-esteem, related to making life changes, or the confidence related to self-efficacy (the level of confidence you have regarding receiving results from the effort you put out).

     Building self-confidence and maintaining this is all an inside job.  It’s up to you to take effective action steps such as learning and using tools and processes.  Be willing to take the bull by the horns.  No one else can do it for you!  In this, and the future confidence articles, I’ll be sharing some valuable tools for you to use.

     Some of the symptoms of low self-confidence include frequently saying sorry, feeling depressed, having self-doubt, making mistakes and covering them up so others don’t think bad of you or asking for something you want.

     So, you may be asking “How can I raise my self-confidence”?  Well, one of several effective ways is to create a more positive and better belief about yourself.   This is done through affirmations and visualizations, and are much more effective when you feel the emotions that are associated with the new beliefs you want to create.

You’re invited to discover a process that I call “The Feeling Process”. This will help you build your self-confidence:

1) Become aware of what belief or behavior you want to change. 
Example:  Have less self-criticism
2) Create a replacement belief or behavior and then create a visual representation and/or an affirmation  
Example: The replacement behavior is: Use more positive self-talk.
Visualize a big beautiful red heart that represents positively talking to yourself instead of criticizing yourself.
 3) Now imagine this visual representation and/or say the affirmation, and at the same time, feel the emotion of how it feels to have this new belief or behavior.  Just use your imagination and make believe.  Have fun with this! It’s best to do this for a few minutes or more.
Example: Visualize the big beautiful red heart coming lovingly towards you.  With intention, feel the emotion of love and appreciation absorbing you.  This emotion can be invoked by thinking of a loved one or remembering a positive experience.
Say positive statements such as “I appreciate you!”
You’ll benefit by doing this daily several times a day.  The more you do this, the better.  It has a cumulative effect too!  So, if this process resonates with you, use it. You’ll love the benefits you receive!
There are other processes and tools that you can use to build your confidence; you’ll learn another one in the next blog. You’ll also discover that it’s through conditioning that creates your self-confidence.
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

Bouncing Back:  Building Resilience in Addiction Recovery ll Martha Fletcher

Bouncing Back:  Building Resilience in Addiction Recovery

The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall.  – Nelson Mandela

     In August 2012, I discovered something called my five-year plan.  I was amid my struggle with substance abuse and thought if I could have the life I wanted, surely giving up alcohol would be worth the benefits of having that life.  I created a timeline of what I would accomplish and by when.  I finished college, got my certifications, moved to Colorado, started my coaching practice, dated a wonderful person, and had plans to be married in 2017.  However, my five-year plan fell apart just short of having it all.  The path of least resistance would have been to return to drinking to cope with my loss and disappointment with the thought, “What’s the point, I have nothing left to lose but this pain?” 

     When the reasons that motivate us to change who we are and how we live are not realized, we can become disappointed, depressed, and angry which can lead to relapse.  Does this mean lower our expectations so low that we can guarantee a certain outcome?  Does it mean to set small goals to avoid feeling disappointed?  Small goals are not motivating and lowering our expectations is comparable to saying, “I’ll give it a shot, but I don’t expect much.”  How long are we going to sustain any real effort with that mindset?  These are not solutions, but ways to protect ourselves from feeling vulnerable to failure and disappointment.  When failure is not an option, we can forget about sustaining any long-term motivation in recovery because learning, growing, and change require risk.   

     Fear of being vulnerable keeps us stuck in our comfort zone when we aren’t given effective ways to manage living outside of it.  The solution is not to avoid being vulnerable to disappointment and failure, but to learn to experience it without the need to escape it.  It is hard to tolerate these experiences when we tell ourselves it is unbearable, we can’t stand it, and brand ourselves failures or life as unfair.  By doing so we actual turn something manageable into hopelessness and powerlessness.  The truth is it is uncomfortable to fail and be disappointment, but we can bounce back from hardships by cultivating the ability to overcome these adversities.  That is the meaning of resilience.    

     When faced with adversity, resilience is like two hands pulling us through the darkness towards the light.  Those hands are hope and faith.  Hope is not something we have or don’t have, but something we cultivate in our thinking and actions.  Hope is defined as a desire for things to be the way we want them to be.  It is synonymous with ambition, goal, plan, and design.  Hope is a personal power to effect change.  We can do this through goal-setting, problem-solving, and action-planning.  It also requires flexibility, perseverance, and believing in our own abilities, along with the courage to reach out for help and support.   For example, if we are faced with a health crisis, do we turn it over to the hands of God alone or do we actively participate in our recovery?  We do both. 

     Faith is the other hand.  The Serenity Prayer reads, “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change; courage to change the things I can; and wisdom to know the difference.”  In some situations, hope alone can only take us so far and the hand of faith will need to carry us the rest of the way.  The definition of faith is complete trust or confidence in someone or something.  Does confidence equate to certainty or guarantee of a desired outcome?  According to Anne Lamott’s book, Plan B: Further Thoughts on Faith, “The opposite of faith is not doubt, but certainty.”  Brené Brown in The Gifts of Imperfection defines faith as “a place of mystery, where we find the courage to believe in what we cannot see and the strength to let go of our fear of uncertainty.” 

     To truly live is to experience disappointment, failure, and loss, along with joy, happiness, and success.  At the heart of all these feelings and experiences is vulnerability.  When we avoid showing up for our own lives in fear of feeling exposed and vulnerable to failure and disappointment, we will be observing life in a dark room through a small window, never experiencing what it means to be alive.  Those in recovery deserve to feel joy, happiness, and success.  However, we have to being willing to walk through the door of vulnerability and have the tools to manage the emotions we experience when we do.  By cultivating a resilient spirit, we can fully experience life despite uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure.

     Hope and faith have helped me choose the path of courage when facing disappointment and failure in recovery.  I am uncertain about the future, but I cultivate hope by setting realistic goals, believing in myself, and trusting faith.  Faith is not my golden ticket.  It does not guarantee me anything, but I am confident that I am being held in the gentle hands of something greater than myself and that, despite success and failure, and there will be both, there will be joy because joy springs from the heart of vulnerability.


Martha Fletcher is a visiting practitioner at People House, and is owner and private practitioner at MRW Recovery Coaching.  Martha graduated summa cum laude with a BA in psychology from Hunter College, City University of New York and is a certified addiction recovery and life coach through New York University, New York State OASAS and Connecticut Community for Addiction Recovery.  She is also a trained SMART Recovery facilitator and founder of Books4Recovery. She recently received her certification in Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy through the Albert Ellis Institute and Illinois Certification Board.

MRW Recovery Coaching
3035 W. 25th Avenue
Denver, CO 80211
www.mrwrecoverycoaching.com
Ph: 720-515-0713

Dreams ll Erin Amundson

Dreams

By: Erin Amunson

  

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 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 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 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 Art of Darkness ll Rich Brodt

The Art of Darkness

By: Rich Brodt

     I sat across the aisle from my classmate, Kyle, on a bus filled with counseling students from our master’s degree program. We were heading back to campus from a day trip to Taos, NM. Kyle and I were engaged a lively discussion about our favorite horror movies. As our conversation turned to some more obscure titles and topics, another student eventually turned around to express that our conversation was a bit morbid. With seeming disgust, the student questioned why someone would be drawn to such dark topics as a source of entertainment.

     I was familiar with this tone. It rang with both curiosity and mild disgust. My tastes in the darker side of art had been questioned by friends, romantic partners, teachers, parents and others throughout my life. Truthfully, I had not seriously questioned these interests until after the brief incident on the bus. I did, however, observe that most of the people in my life looked at some of my interests in a negative light. On that bus, I also observed that many individuals working towards a career in the counseling profession, where judgment is frowned upon, had no problem chiming in to let us know that the subject matter was a bit offensive to their sensibilities. As I continue to consider the idea of why some of us are drawn to darkness, the answer seems simple. These pursuits are therapeutic.

     When watching a horror movie, one is faced with the uncanny, the mysterious, the obscene and the paranormal. In a sense, these are concepts of unreality in that what we see in horror movies does not reflect the world’s present reality, except in rare circumstances. As a result, the movie creates a world that is separate from our own. It is a fantastical surrogate, used to represent the atrocities of our world without forcing us to witness those atrocities in a reality that is too familiar to us. It is inhabited by fictitious people and entities playing out fictitious stories. In this alternate reality, the viewer can safely engage in fantasy and take on any role from hero to perpetrator of evil. This feels permissible because the fantasy takes place in a setting so removed from reality. The viewer has a safe place to explore their most distressing, unwanted desires without slipping into a place of self-judgment, and without inflicting harm on others. This is cathartic. 

     Catharsis is not without value, but there is deeper work to do. This is where both art and therapy can play a larger role in allowing the individual to process the emotions related to horrific or scary thoughts.

     Personally, poetry was the medium I chose to explore darkness. The lens of the poet allowed me to take my most negative thoughts and twist them into beautiful language. Using this lens to explore my psyche, I could see light and dark integrate to form a more complete picture. I saw myself expressed on the page and accepted the positive and negative as equally important parts of my personal narrative. They were not good thoughts and bad thoughts, they were simply different thoughts, the integration of which allowed me to feel whole, and the denial of which made me feel disconnected. Poetry was a door to vulnerability that allowed me share myself with others on a deep level. I no longer needed to live in denial of what I believed were unacceptable feelings and thoughts. It was a starting point to self-awareness and self-acceptance.

     Writing worked well for me and has become an essential part of my mental health, but counselors can foster the same kind of exploration in their sessions if they are willing to go there with clients, fostering an atmosphere where these thoughts can be explored, imagined, experienced and processed.

     The clinician can use a variety of skills to accomplish this. If the clinician senses that a client is keeping something hidden, they may inquire about this, maintaining a non-judgmental stance, the clinician can ask the individual about songs or other movies they may be connecting with at present. Jungian depth work would also be helpful in helping a client connect to some of their thoughts that they may shy away from. Having the option to provide the clinician with an image or metaphor representing a thought should let clients feel safer disclosing and processing. This creates separation from the client’s inner thoughts, allowing them to process a representation of their thought when the thought itself is too difficult to swallow. That being said, it is not necessarily the method that will make a difference, but the willingness to dialog with the client about these thoughts creates a space where self-acceptance is possible amid unacceptable thoughts. Without a route to accept and process such thoughts, an individual may avoid or deny these thoughts, seeing them as taboo. This closes an individual off to vulnerability and can lead to destructive behaviors, such as self-harm, substance abuse and various other unwanted behaviors.


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

Breaking Point || Lora Cheadle

What to do When You Are at Your Breaking Point

How to Identify and Eliminate Stressors BEFORE They Break You

Have you heard the idiom, “It was the straw that broke the camel’s back?” This illustrates the point that while we can take a lot, at some point, we all reach our breaking point. Whether that means losing our temper, getting sick or sliding into depression, none of us want to reach our breaking point. Just like the camel, many of us are burdened slowly, adapting to our ever-increasing load, until one day when a seemingly innocuous little straw is placed on our back, and we break for what seems an insignificant reason.

The parable of the frog in pot of boiling water illustrates a similar point. Put a frog in a pot of boiling water and it will panic and struggle to get out. Put a frog in a pot of tepid water, slowly turn up the heat, and the frog will sit quietly, allowing itself to be cooked alive.

Our Emotional Warning System

As self-preserving organisms, we are equipped with our own built-in guidance system that allows us to identify when we are being pushed to our breaking point. When we experience feelings of overwhelm, frustration, anxiety or stress, it’s our body’s way of letting us know that we are reaching our breaking point. Contrary to what we may believe, it is not normal to experience chronic states of stress, overwhelm, frustration and anxiety. These emotions are danger signals, and it’s crucial for us to be aware of what these emotions are signaling, and to take action before we reach our breaking point. Before we find ourselves with broken backs. Before we find ourselves having been boiled alive.

Negative or stressful emotions are danger signals, signaling us that we need to make a change. If we don’t, we suffer the consequences. Even if we don’t have a full-blown breakdown, the resulting consequences can be mental problems, emotional outbursts, relationship problems, anger issues, impaired job performance, the inability to connect with others, a decreased capacity to feel joy, chronic inflammation, diabetes, unexplained pain, weight gain or worsening feelings of hopelessness.

Breakdown of the Emotional Guidance System and the Resulting Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

When we treat these emotional warning signals for what they are-signals warning us that we need to make changes – and then we make those changes – we recover. Our bodies, minds and spirits heal and we return to a natural, normal state of calm alertness. But when we fail to respond to these warning signals, when we keep-on keeping-on, fighting down panic and pushing ahead, we force our bodies to adapt in unhealthy ways. Forcing our bodies, minds and spirits to live in state of chronic hyper-stimulation and anxiety short-circuit all of our natural survival mechanisms. Like any machine forced to run beyond its capabilities, we eventually break down.

By forcing our bodies to integrate negative and stressful emotions into our everyday lives, without respite, we adapt. We forget what it’s like to feel peaceful, calm and centered. We believe it’s normal to live in a state of heightened anxiety, to feel stressed, overwhelmed and frustrated, and this becomes our new normal. A new baseline is set and suddenly we think we are feeling good when we are truly feeling stressed. We have changed our brains to believe that stress and anxiety are normal states of being, making our emotional warning system ineffective. By being stoic and brave we train ourselves to allow more negativity and stress, until one day – often without warning – we reach our breaking point. Our back breaks or we realize that we have been boiled alive.

Decreasing Stress and Anxiety in Four Steps

Fortunately, we can reverse course on this phenomenon and return our stress and anxiety baseline to a healthy, normal level. All it takes is self-awareness, dedication and a commitment to living in a life of joy, peace and harmony.

Step One

Identify a time when you felt calm, peaceful and centered. When you were alert, contented and neutral. Not elated, just neutral. A time when you simply felt good.

Step Two

Identify when you experience negative and stressful emotions. Don’t judge them or try to change them, just notice when you have them. Get a little notepad that you can carry with you. Keep it with your cell phone and every time you fiddle with your phone, write down how you feel mentally, physically and spiritually.

The notes might look something like this:

Irritated, pent-up, silent.

Frazzled, blob-like, vindictive.

Tired, sore, far-away.

Energetic, bouncy, filled with song.

Do not try to avoid having emotions, or deny what you are feeling, simply identify what you feel.

Step Three

Once you are aware of what you are feeling, consciously feel those emotions. Spend up to a minute consciously feeling the emotion that you have identified. How does this emotion feel in your head, your heart and your body? What is it like to be that emotion?

Step Four

After you have allowed your body, mind and spirit to experience these emotions, consciously return yourself to a place of neutrality. To a place of peace. Return to a neutral, natural, rational state of peace and then deal with whatever is causing your negative or stressful emotions, repeating the process of identifying and feeling any negative emotions that pop up in the process, and continuously and systematically returning yourself to a state of peace and neutrality.

 

Stress-free Living

We are the camel. We have to unburden ourselves every time we are burdened or risk running out of capacity and breaking. We are also the frog. We have to stay aware of our surroundings, of what is happening to us at all times, or we will be boiled alive without our knowledge. Our emotions and feelings are the tools that allow us to stay alert, aware, safe and happy. All capacity is finite. We are not weak, we are human and we have limits. Let’s learn to honor those limits before it’s too late.


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!

Turning Your Inner Critic Into a Supportive Ally || Dorothy Wallis

Turning Your Inner Critic Into a Supportive Ally

Does your inner voice judge you or demean you?  Is a critical voice telling you what you “should” or “should not” do or experience?  Do you have a feeling that somehow you are not enough or do not matter?

At first, your Inner Critic may wake you up and try to get your attention; “better work on that project, get going, you are going to be late, quit procrastinating, you made a mistake, be responsible, exercise, eat healthier.” It informs and jars you into action.  It can be helpful, nudging and prodding you into beneficial behaviors.

If you haven’t paid attention, it often turns ugly and begins to berate you.  It says mean things about your character; “you are lazy, stupid, ugly, irresponsible, wrong, weak, no good, damaged, you can’t do anything right, nobody will ever want to be with you and you will never amount to anything.”  Those may be mild words compared with your critic.

Whatever words bring up your deepest darkest core wounds, the critic uses them against you to force you to react.  It causes a sharp pain inside telling you, “You are not good enough and need to be fixed.”  The message is that you are bad and shameful or you are weak and ineffective.  This voice is relentless.  You become anxious, hypersensitive, and defensive.  It brings up a host of feelings, which may run the gamut from annoyance, worry, frustration, to anger, guilt, sadness, intense grief and toxic shame.  At the worst, you can’t concentrate on anything else.  You are caught in a barrage of thoughts and feelings that tear down your self-esteem, may cause confusion, depression, and sleepless nights until you are apathetic and drained of energy.

Even when you are feeling tormented by the inner critic, there is another part of you that arises in disagreement with it.  The angst and pain are shouting that judging yourself is harmful.   You KNOW there is another story.

Where does this Critical Voice come from and Why is it Controlling Me?
With all of its bashing and criticism, you naturally think that the inner critic is a judgmental devil that wants to crush you.  You resist it, push it away or attempt to ignore it.  Judging yourself, your experience, your emotions or others always creates distance.  There is an immediate natural reaction to push away or ignore what we judge as not right or do not want to experience.  So, you push away the inner critic and at the same time distance yourself from experiences and people, which the critic suspects are harmful in some way.

“You lock the door and throw away the key, There’s someone in my head, but it’s not me.”  ~ Pink Floyd 

What if I told you that this voice wants to protect you?  Now, that seems like an absurd, crazy thought….but stay with me.

The inner critic is a part of the psyche known as the Superego.  It has a purpose.  Its job is to help you follow the rules, protocols of society and beliefs that you formed as a guiding foundation in which to safely navigate the reality.  Your inner critic is a guide and protector constantly watching everything you do or don’t do so that you stay on course, to keep you safe and free from pain.  It guides you away from any person, experience or emotion it assumes will cause you pain.  It points directly at your values, rules, and beliefs and cleverly knows exactly how to get you to stay in line with them.  You developed many of these rules in childhood by hearing, watching and learning about what was expected of you and what your family and culture deemed valuable.  You added your own self-critique, thoughts and beliefs through your experience of life.  This conglomeration of words and phrases are repeated to you through the voice in your head.

The thing is…all beliefs and truths about reality are temporary constructs.  You and life are constantly growing and expanding.  Values, beliefs, and rules need to grow and change as well.  The values and beliefs of your caretakers and culture may not mesh with your highest good or what is applicable for you now.  In addition, unhealthy cultural motivators of anger, guilt and shame most likely shaped your inner critic.  The inner critic only has power and control over you when you believe disparaging thoughts about yourself to be true or believe that all of its advice is good for you.  Rather than motivating you, derogatory criticism, judgment and shame deplete your self-confidence and contract you.  It limits you, keeps you small and disengaged from your talents and abilities.

“The Inner Critic does not know the Truth”

You have the Key to Open the door to the Truth 
Think of the Superego as a supervisor.  The job of the supervisor is to oversee You.  It tells you when you are going out of bounds from your own values and beliefs.  It did not create the rules nor did it create the way to deliver the message.  It does not know the truth.  It is simply pointing out the principles you have believed are valuable for you to be safe, be accepted, receive love, achieve your purpose and fit in with society.  You get to decide what to believe and what values support your highest well-being.  When you know this, your superego can work for you in a powerful way to uplift you instead of diminishing you.

Approaching the Inner Critic with Non-judgmental Awareness and Discernment
1.  With compassionate awareness and discernment determine:  What is the intention of the voice?  How is it attempting to protect or guide me?
Turn toward the inner critic instead of pushing it away.  Approach the voice from an intimate distance with curiosity and loving-kindness.  Have compassion for this part of you that wants to protect and guide you.  Listen to what it is actually saying.  Instead of immediately believing the words, question the validity of your self-talk.  Is it a guiding voice talking about behaviors that need adjustment or actions to take that are helpful, is it protecting you from pain, or is the critic attacking your character?

2.  If it is Guiding you then ask:  How is it guiding me?  Is the guidance helpful or not? Am I resisting any actions, behaviors or experiences, which are beneficial for me?

3.  If it is Protecting you then ask:  What is it protecting me from?  Is there something dangerous or to fear?  Is it limiting me?  Am I afraid to feel my emotions?  Am I afraid to see reality?

3.  If it is Attacking your character:  Is it saying you are flawed, defective, no good or weak?  What were you told growing up?  All attacks on your inherent worth are untrue and damaging.  Allow yourself to touch the pain underlying condemning words.  See the truth and allow any wounded feelings of shame, weakness and grief to express and release.  What have you believed about yourself?

4.  Use the superego’s directional compass to reveal distortions of the truth and to show you what you believe.  See the triggered emotions as telling you “something is off otherwise I would not feel pain.”  What have you believed you needed to be, to have, to do, or to achieve in order to be accepted and feel safe in relationship or in the world?  Do these statements about yourself or how you interact with life match up with the truth of your authentic self?  Do they support your highest growth?  Do they allow you to expand and grow or do they keep you contracted and limited?

You get to choose what you believe and what values support you.  You are not bound by the judgments of others or of a “voice in your head.”  Whenever you hear words of what you “should do” or “should be” it is an indication of someone’s opinion and that opinion may not jive at all with what is right for you.  Use discernment to decide whether the advice is beneficial or not.  Remember, you do not need to be “fixed.”  You are inherently valuable; you matter and simply by being, you are enough.

You can build a different relationship with your superego.  You can feel compassion for the vulnerable parts of yourself that are afraid to step out of limitation and the tender parts afraid to feel the pain of repressed wounds or emotions.  You can silence the disrespectful voice by honoring the truth of your inherent worth.  You have the ability to transform outmoded beliefs and rules into healthy life-giving ones that support you and your relationships with others.  When you listen with your heart you will know what values, behaviors and actions serve your soul’s highest good.  By becoming aware of your authentic truth, your inner critic will take its proper role as a supportive guide and protector and become a worthwhile ally.

************************************************************************About the Author

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

Men and Psychotherapy || Craig Freund

By Craig Freund, Affordable Counseling Program Intern
New posts every other Tuesday

men and psychotherapyJPEG

 

 “Some men turn away from all this cheap emotion with a kind of heroic despair… But this too can be an error. For if our emotions really die in the desert, our humanity dies with them.” 

Thomas Merton

 

     Despite modern stereotypes associated with talk therapy, this practice was once a predominantly masculine career choice. From the forefathers of modern psychotherapy including Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, Carl Rogers and Albert Ellis, the practice was once limited almost exclusively to male practitioners. During the early development of this field, gender inequality was very much alive, just as it is today. However, overtime there has definitely been a shift not only in the practice, but also in the proportion of male and female therapists who facilitate the healing process. This modern day gender imbalance may be both a symptom and a contributing factor in a cascade of problems that significantly impacts the greater population and the male population in particular.

     In the world of mental health, the male population represents nearly 80% of deaths by suicide, furthermore men are much less likely to seek treatment than their female counterparts. This shocking statistic can certainly be attributed to gender stereotypes and culturally reinforced gender norms. These factors are only further represented by the minimal number of practicing male psychotherapists. While an ongoing feminist movement continues to strive for gender equality in regards to women’s rights, men continue to suffer the consequences of restrictive gender stereotypes and gender roles. For men, it is often culturally unacceptable to experience, express and discuss certain emotions. Furthermore, it is generally considered faux pas for men to seek help for emotional or behavioral issues. In fact, when men do not adhere to culturally preferred gender roles they can experience social rejection, loss of status, as well as fewer opportunities in work or with potential mates. Instead, men often bottle or repress their emotions leading to destructive behaviors or even suicidal actions.

     Recognizing this growing concern, www.mantherapy.org has implemented a humorous campaign in an effort to make psychotherapy more approachable for men. This campaign applies a masculine perspective in examining mental health issues that are more specific to the male population. Despite the clear benefit of this campaign, it will require an ongoing effort by those that truly care about the men in their lives to alleviate the stigma that men often experience when expressing emotion or seeking treatment. If you have concerns for your husband, father, brother or son, ask the tough questions, normalize their experience of sadness, grief or anger and encourage them to take a look at resources like Man Therapy, or even to seek support from a mental health specialist.

Starting a conversation can certainly save lives, however this is only the first step towards ensuring psychological wellness for the men in this world. 

     In an effort to further address this collective cultural issue, it is important to reflect on how this cultural norm is reinforced. Young men are raised to be tough and are either directly or indirectly taught that expressing emotion is a sign of weakness. Young men are taught to seek out independence rather than relationships and can be stifled in regards to their emotional development. In an effort to address this ongoing cultural issue, we must take a look at how we are raising our male children. Rather than overtly or even covertly reinforcing the suppression of emotion, we must teach all children that it is okay to experience and express emotion. We should encourage children to label their feelings and to talk about why they might be feeling what they are feeling. By enabling our children to develop some degree of emotional intelligence, we can increase a cultural capacity for emotion regulation, distress tolerance and interpersonal relationship. In turn, we can hope that issues effecting the male population including substance abuse, domestic violence and suicidality will be on the decline.

     As we deliberately challenge what has become a devastating cultural norm, we can hope to increase the number of male mental health professionals that might help to further address a variety of patriarchal problems that seem to run in every family. Furthermore, by encouraging a cultural shift we can hope that male clients might further seek treatment from a professional whom they are most comfortable working with. It is true that a strong male who is capable of modelling appropriate emotional expression and regulation can very much encourage other men to follow suit.

     Various cultures in the history of the world have thought that tears were a sign of masculinity and strength. It was thought that tears reflected that a man lived by a code of values and cared enough to show this by experiencing emotion in various circumstances. It is very true that vulnerability requires courage, it seems that a man who is capable of expressing emotion might be that much more comfortable with their own masculinity. As I reflect on various positive male role models in my own life, I have great admiration for those that have had respect for emotion and were capable of expressing feeling.

Despite this, it is true that the tough guy stereotype dies hard and it might only be through a collective effort that our culture can strive to improve the mental health of the men in this world. 

     If you or a man in your life is struggling with behavioral or emotional issues, encourage a conversation, validate/normalize their experience and encourage them to seek help from a qualified mental health professional. As with emotion itself, therapy is not a purely feminine domain, therapy can very much take on a no bull shit, tough love perspective that is interwoven with genuine understanding and unconditional positive regard. If you have specific concerns related to men’s mental health, find a therapist that is familiar with and specializes in men’s issues. Finally, check-out some excellent supportive resources such as man therapy or the good men project.

“If a man does not know what port he is steering for, no wind is favorable to him.” 

-Seneca

 

www.mantherapy.org

www.goodmenproject.com

Fruits of the Spirit || Lora Cheadle

Fruits of the Spirit

By Lora Cheadle

Ingredients for a Happy Life

I’ve noticed a lot of relationship stuff on Facebook lately. Many of my friends are celebrating anniversaries, several friend’s kids have gotten engaged, and there are always a multitude of articles such as: making others fall madly in love with you, what women are biologically programmed to find attractive in a mate and what all men wish women knew.

Then there was the post from The Onion that my son recently shared. It was entitled, “Study Finds Not Acting Like Total F*&%ing Moron Most Attractive Quality in Potential Mate.” Although the article was satire, it actually made a very important point, which you don’t even need to read the article in order to benefit from. And that is, don’t act like a jerk.

Everyone has Troubles, the Difference is how we Respond to Trouble

Life is hard. For all of us. Nobody goes through live unscathed, no matter what they may say and no matter what you may think. Everyone experiences loss, heart break, devastation, sadness, depression and pain. True, some may seem to have more or less than others, but really, it’s about the same. Everyone experiences hardship. The difference is how we handle that difficulty.

Being Positive For Ourselves

Most people are resilient and most of us like to feel good, so we go ahead and act happy, even when we aren’t. Not to lie, or to put on a false front, but simply so we can feel as good as possible. Because feeling good feels better than feeling bad. So, for whatever period of time that we are out in public, we put on a happy front, and quite often, because of the happy front we’ve put on, we actually feel happier.

Not Burdening Others

Sometimes we also feign happiness for others. There are many situations where it’s not appropriate to say what’s really going on in our lives. For better or for worse, there are things that we just don’t say, and there are things we just don’t want to hear from others.

How would we react if our favorite barista told us that she’s super tired because her husband got drunk last night and woke her up at two in the morning to fight about their credit card bill, which was too high to pay off? What if a co-worker said she was sorry to be so out of sorts, but that she hadn’t felt loved in years, and that the emptiness of a bad marriage sometimes really got her down. What if the checker at the grocery store shared that his grandma is battling cancer and that his ex-wife was bipolar and he is scared to leave the kids with her more often than he was comfortable with because his grandma needed so much help?

In some sense it could be a relief to hear that others had problems too, and it might make us more compassionate, but in another sense, it could unduly burden us. We might think, “What, so now I’m supposed to be late because you can’t get it together?” or “What am I supposed to do with that? Am I supposed to help, offer advice, give you the day off? What do I do now?” Which is why culturally, we just don’t air our dirty laundry!

Everyone Hurts, All the Time

Just because we don’t share our problems, doesn’t mean that they don’t exist. We aren’t the only ones with problems and we aren’t the only ones digging deep, putting on a pleasant face and going on with our day to the best of our ability. Everyone else is too.

Which brings us to The Onion article that my son posted on Facebook. The most attractive quality in anyone, not just a potential mate, is not acting like an idiot. Treating everyone with respect, kindness, and with the assumption that everyone is fighting some kind of battle.

It doesn’t matter what kind of a relationship we are talking about either. Whether it’s a long term one or just a fleeting interaction in public, the only thing that matters is how kind we are to each other.

The Common Denominator is Kindness

When I started thinking about my relationships, and what I wanted out of those relationships, I started off with longer lists of qualities. I want friends who are humorous and supportive, who are open minded and loving, but very quickly I saw that those qualities are actually fairly superficial. Yes, I want a partner who is humorous, but I also want one who is serious. I want friends who are supportive but I also need friends who give me my space. Yes, I strongly prefer those who are open minded, but I also deeply appreciate those who have strong beliefs. The common denominator to any of my desired qualities is kindness.

If someone is serious or funny, I want them to be kind with their words. If someone is supportive or aloof, I want them to do it with kindness and gentleness. If someone is committed to their beliefs or open to a multitude of new ideas, as long as they go about it in a kind and gentle way, I’m perfectly fine with whatever they think.

It made me see that living a beautiful, joyful, peaceful life really isn’t that hard. All we have to do is be gentle and kind. To understand that suffering is a universal human quality, and that everyone suffers is all we need to know. To know that it is not our job to change or alleviate this suffering is also helpful. We don’t have to have solutions. We don’t have to find the answer. Literally, all we have to do is be kind and gentle to everyone around us. That’s all.

It reminded me of a wall hanging that a friend gave me when I got married, that was taken from Galatians 5:22-23. It was a row of apothecary jars labeled with the fruits of the spirit; love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

I always thought of it as the Ingredients for a Happy Life, and although I have failed to use those ingredients, those ingredients have never failed me. Pretty simple recipe, if only we remember to use the right ingredients!


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!

The Power of Forgiveness When You Have Been Wronged || Dorothy Wallis

The Power of Forgiveness When You Have Been Wronged
By Dorothy Wallis
You’ve heard it before, “forgive and move on,” and inside you are still reeling from the pain and hurt that has been done and there is no way you want to “forgive, forget or move on.”  The feeling of violation is strong and you feel justified in blaming and having resentment. 

If you were betrayed, unloved, neglected, rejected, lied to, cheated, dismissed, manipulated, silenced, emotionally or physically abused, you want justice and acknowledgement of the wrong that has been done to you…. 

You want to understand why it happened.  You want the offender to be remorseful, to make amends, or to pay for what they did.  You want the past to be different and wonder what your life would be like if this had not happened.  Your mind replays the experience over and over.  These thoughts fill your mind and you can’t seem to let go and at this stage you don’t want to let go.  You believe if you let go, you will never receive the retribution you deserve.

Yet, what is the cost of not letting go?  Your hurt can turn into bitterness with contempt, anger, hate and even revenge pulling you deeper into a dark shroud of pain and despair. You carry the heavy burden of past wounds and are held hostage by the wrongs of the past.

“Let us Forgive Each Other – Only then will We Live in Peace” 
~ Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoy

Resentment Magnifies Your Pain and Suffering
The act of forgiveness has often been misunderstood.  It is not an admission that what happened to you or someone you loved was okay.  Forgiveness does not condone the harmful act or make the wrong that happened acceptable.  Forgiveness is giving up the belief that the past could or will be different.  It is an acceptance that what happened did happen and cannot be changed. The act of forgiveness releases you from the toxicity of hurtful and destructive emotional baggage, which captures and poisons your mind.  Holding on to resentment not only inflicts more anguish and suffering onto your initial injury, it actually magnifies the pain you feel.  It does not empower you nor does it right the wrong nor does it change the one that caused the harm.
Forgiveness Heals

True power comes from the act of forgiving.  Forgiveness is something you do for yourself not for the one that caused the harm.  The glorious benefit is that it also releases the grip on the offender, which allows  deeper and often miraculous healing to occur.  You want acknowledgment of your pain, so offer it to yourself.  You may never receive the acknowledgment from the one that offended you.  Bring your grievances into your awareness and have compassion for the pain you have endured.  You have experienced a deep loss.  Allow yourself to really grieve the loss.  There is a part of you that has been lost and must be retrieved.  Your innocent trusting nature has been wounded.  Release emotion that has been bottled up and smoldering beneath the surface.  Nursing animosity induces stress and research shows that ruminating on negative feelings impairs your heart leading to earlier death.  Forgive yourself for holding on to hurtful thoughts.  Regain trust in your own ability to heal.  Your body will be liberated from the rigid tension that separation from your true nature brings.

“When You’re Sure You’ve Had Enough
of this Life, well Hang On
Don’t Let Yourself Go
Cause Everybody Cries
And Everybody Hurts Sometimes”
~ R.E.M.

Your heart yearns to be healed and the way to heal is having the courage to forgive.  Forgive yourself and forgive others for being human and imperfect.  It may be difficult to believe; yet each person is doing the best that they can with their present stage of awareness.  No one goes through life untouched by painful experiences. 

“Forgiving is the Capacity to Bend from a Rigid Conditional Stance and Freely Move Toward and Offer Heartfelt Compassion to All”

When you let go of the past you are opening yourself to freedom.  “For” means to go toward someone or something while “Give” means to freely transfer or offer something along with the capacity to bend.  Giving freely is an unconditional act in which you do so without the expectation of receiving anything in return.  So, forgiving is the capacity to bend from a rigid conditional stance and freely move toward and offer heartfelt compassion to all. Begin with offering compassion to yourself.  Do it for Love.  The hurt in relationship is ultimately the pain of not feeling loved, cared for, valued, respected and free from harm.  You desire safety, love and unity and when you dare to forgive, you mend the internal fracture of separation and return to your natural state of secure loving kindness.  People that have the ability to forgive are less anxious, depressed and live a happier life.  You give yourself the greatest gift of love when you forgive and release the painful separating thoughts of blame and resentment.  You come to realize that your true self can never be hurt by the thoughts or actions of others. 

About the Author: Dorothy Wallis

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

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth