Archive for the ‘Growth’ Category.

Treasure What You Already Have ll Kate Heartsong

TREASURE WHAT YOU ALREADY HAVE AND BUILD CONFIDENCE AND GRATITUDE

By: Kate Heartsong

 

You’ve probably have heard to not take things for granted.  Yet we often do take people and/or and things for granted.  For example, how many times have you started your car and it starts?  You don’t think anything of it right?  How about when you get together with your friends and loved ones; go to the same job each day; have enough food on the table; feel physically healthy; are able to walk; and are free to go where you want to go?  Yes, all of these are easy to take for granted.

Yet, when something unexpected happens and what you’ve been taking for granted is gone, oh!  that’s when we appreciate it all the more!  And often we experience great upset when it’s gone.

About a year ago, I went to my car in the garage, and pushed the garage door opener, and the garage door got stuck.  It turns out the whole spring and cable came out!  I couldn’t get my car out after trying to open the garage manually either.  It was a helpless feeling, knowing my car was stuck in this garage and I couldn’t go to teach my class!

Thankfully, my roommate and also my nextdoor neighbor were available quickly after I contacted both of them.  Wow!  They assessed the situation, were able to put their muscles to work and manually lifted the heavy garage door.  I was free!  Talk about a great demonstration of being taken care of by the universe through these two wonderful men acting so quickly on my behalf.

This situation wasn’t extreme as others, yet it reminded me to appreciate and treasure what I do already have. 

Then, this made me realize that sometimes we can take ourselves and our skills and gifts for granted.   Ummm, let’s think about that one! 

For example, how many times have you shown up to work, offering your organizational, communication, and/or leadership skills – whatever gifts and skills you use – without giving it a thought of the positive benefits you’re giving to your employer, co-workers and clients?

What would it be like if you came to truly recognize those gifts and skills at work?  And what about at home in your personal life?  What would it be like to really appreciate yourself?  This will increase your self-confidence!  And the awesome thing about this is, as you raise your self-appreciation and confidence, and NOT take yourself for granted, you also benefit others around you!

I bring these examples up simply to remind you to not take things for granted, and not to take yourself for granted.  Let’s take this a step further, and invoke gratitude for all you have , for all you do and all your gifts and skills!  Gratitude is such a powerful and positive emotion, and it raises your vibration, so you feel better!

I invite you to sit down and write a few of your gifts and skills and feel gratitude for yourself.  Also, write down five people and/or things you’re choosing to NOT take for granted.

Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!


Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

Kate Heartsong
303.549.0546
Kate@JoyfulRadiance.com
Website:  JoyfulRadiance.com

Frugality, Self Reliance, Generosity and the Cost of Not Receiving ll Dorothy Wallis

Frugality, Self Reliance, Generosity and the Cost of Not Receiving

By Dorothy Wallis

     As a child of depression era parents, I was taught to be frugal.  Growing up in a small farmhouse in the country, there wasn’t a need for many material possessions.  Anything that one owned was valuable.  Clothes were practical and seasonally appropriate.  Taking care of them was necessary.  If they became worn or torn, we mended them.  I learned how to sew, knit and crochet from my mother and grandmother.  To this day, I hand wash my sweaters and mend the moth holes.  Repairing anything over throwing it out and buying new is a first response.  If it can be fixed, do so.  If I buy something, I expect it to last and I take care of it to make sure it will as long as possible.  I will wait to buy quality over a cheaply made item.  If it still works and has life in it, keep it.  My car is a 2001 Toyota Celica.  It does not have a GPS, keyless starter or fancy electronics.  It does have style and it gets me where I want to go.  I have no intention of trading it in for a new luxury vehicle.  Yes, my car is a relic, it is not even made anymore, but I love it.

Confidence through Self Reliance

     Being frugal has taught me self-reliance.  A sense of practicality became a “learn how to do-it-yourself” philosophy.  Why pay someone else to do something if you can do it?  I have made clothing, doll apparel, pillows, curtains, costumes, toys and teepees, sanded floors, painted and repaired walls, designed my house and garden, hand dug trenches, holes and garden beds, planted, pruned and landscaped my property while tending my vegetable garden with the satisfying benefit of fresh nourishing produce.  As a child, I built play structures out of bark, snow, and scrap pieces of wood or any available material.  Making things is fun.  There is a sense of groundedness and accomplishment in knowing that I am capable of figuring things out, using my imagination and creating what I want. 

Self-reliance has served me well and given me the inner confidence to know that I can learn to do anything.   

     This self-reliant confidence along with a fascination with design took me through a span of jobs designing printed circuit boards, electronics, mechanical equipment, aerospace launch vehicles, and originating a landscape design business.  My interest in psychology, spirituality, biology, the arts and people has cultivated my pursuit of creating a healthier and more humane world for all of us.  Through following my aspirations, I journeyed with metaphysics, meditation, teaching children, facilitating adult vision retreats, workshops, counseling and therapy and found fulfillment in giving to others. 

The Myth of Giving being Better than Receiving

     What I have discovered is that frugality and self-reliance are not in opposition to generosity.  Frugality is being thrifty, economical, prudent, and careful with resources.  This quality has lost ground over the last fifty years and we can see this in our economy and care for our environment.  One image that people may have is that if one is frugal then one is stingy but these are two different attributes.  I was taught to depend upon myself and to be generous and giving to others.  One story really sticks in my heart.  Friends of my parents had a large family with thirteen children.  Every time we went to their home, we were to take one of our toys and give it to them.  That was hard when I was a kid because we didn’t have many toys and each one was precious.  Yet, it felt so good to see the happiness the gift of my toy brought. 

What I learned was unselfish charity, “It is better to give than receive.”
 
     It sounds like such an admirable truth and it shaped my life.  Yet, there are consequences to thinking that giving is Better than receiving.  Of course, giving to others is valuable and worthy.  I give of my time and energy.  I’m a good tipper, a generous gift giver and will happily spend money on friends and loved ones, give the “better” or “bigger” piece to another, give things away for free, give discounts and go overtime with my clients, do pro-bono work, think of others first and go out of my way to do for them and put my needs last.  Being generous feels good and research confirms that giving to others enhances mental health, reduces stress, lends a sense of purpose and increases life expectancy.  I won’t give up Giving.  What I needed to ditch was putting myself last or forgetting my needs entirely.  The attitude that giving is better than receiving cost me.

Being Needless and Wantless Creates Guilt and Shame

     For a long time, I was reluctant to spend money on myself.  Growing up, my family was not just frugal, but also quite poor.  We were taught to do without and to be needless and wantless.  Guilt would succumb me whenever I bought something for myself that was not a necessity.  Somehow, it was not okay for me to receive.  It showed up in big and little ways.  Inside of me was a secret chamber filled with shame that I kept hidden.  Judging myself, I would hide things I bought, which also meant that I was not enjoying their use.  I had to justify my purchases, “it was on sale, someone gave me a gift certificate, I needed it for work, it will be useful.”  It couldn’t be that I simply desired it.  The shame would churn inside and eat me up.  “Am I being irresponsible? Am I being selfish?”  There was a lot of fear and worry that I locked inside.   

“Without Giving there can be No Receiving and Without Receiving there can be No Giving”

Abundance is Giving and Receiving

     Abundance in the form of being “given to” was not a part of my belief system.  It was fine if it happened through work.  I was self-reliant to an extreme.  I would not ask for help even if I were sick.  I would not pay for a service if I thought I could do it on my own.  I wasn’t allowing myself to receive the joy of sharing abundance.  What I now know for sure is that without giving there can be no receiving and without receiving there can be no giving.  One is not better than the other.  It is a balance.  They go hand in hand.  What I left out of the equation was Me.  I wasn’t receiving the joy of giving to myself or allowing others to give to me.  Deprivation is not a virtue.  If I truly believed in an abundant universe then I needed to adjust my scarcity thinking.  As I receive, I am filled and able to give in return and so are others.

     I remember my Grandmother Dixie putting her finest and most cherished dress in the back closet only to be worn occasionally at very special times.  Did those times ever occur?  Not often…perhaps not at all.  Am I going to put my life on hold or am I going to allow myself the joy of the abundance in my life?  Letting go of guilt and shame about “having” nice things is such a relief.  I’ve learned to take those clothes out of the back closet, wear my jewelry, use the china and “special” dishes, and purchase things for my home that delight me.  I’ve decided to take trips to visit my daughter, my sisters and to go on outings with friends.  I have realized that I am a resourceful and responsible person and will still be frugally cautious with my money.  I can rely on myself and also ask or pay for help.  With the consciousness of abundance, I have genuine gratitude for my possessions and have the ability to share my resources in Joy.


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

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

The Real Secret ll Erin Amundson

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

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

When I engaged him in a process of going deeper, we discovered a few things. 

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

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

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

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

On paper, and in person, you’d never know this about my friend.  The truth is, he didn’t know it about himself.  Consciously, LOGICally, he knows he’s talented and hard working.  But under the surface, he is still telling the story of his childhood, reinforced by the story of his being fired mid-career.  I suspect he will either attract no employment at all or another abusive employer if he doesn’t shift the story of his subconscious.

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

And they’d be correct because my friend is out of alignment to attract what he wants.

So what’s the message in this story?  If you’re working to co-create your life – whatever it is that you want – and it’s not working out for you, you may need to explore your subconscious.  Most of the great law of attraction literature teaches us to manage our thoughts.  I think this is great – but did you know that our conscious brain is only 5% of the story?  The rest of the information, particularly information we have taken in as children, is stored in our subconscious.  The subconscious thoughts and beliefs put out just as much of a vibe as our conscious thoughts and beliefs.  It is only when we bring them into our conscious awareness that we truly have the power to create what we desire.


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

A Different Kind of Pill ll Rich Brodt

A Different Kind of Pill
By: Rich Brodt

   

   The “red pill” was a concept introduced into American culture by the film, The Matrix, and the symbol has come to mean something like the truth – an ability to view what is really taking place outside of our perception and cultural programming. So when I watched the documentary “The Red Pill,” I expected to receive novel information that would change the way I looked at gender equality, but instead I saw more blaming and little actual progress.

     The film, which purports to be a feminist’s journey into the Men’s Rights movement, ends up being a somewhat heavy handed documentary that accomplishes little in terms of bridging the gap between men and women who both feel that they receive unfair treatment in society. The film does point out several men’s issues that could use more attention. These include the male suicide rate, male treatment in family court and men’s health issues. However, there is rarely any sort of deep inspection as to why these issues arise. The feminists interviewed for the film tended to blame the men for their own problems, painting themselves as unsympathetic to men’s issues. The men interviewed in the film seem unsympathetic to women’s issues. And as a result of how they frame their arguments, a few reveal their own misogynistic thinking. 

      The most immediate response most people have to something going wrong in their life is to immediately look for someone or something on which they can blame their misfortune. As we mature, we are faced with our failings more frequently. We can blame an “other” for this misfortune and easily cede responsibility for fixing it ourselves. However, this leads to inertia and increased defensiveness. If we regularly avoid responsibility for our actions, we need to shout even louder about who is oppressing us in order to justify our continued stagnation. Now this is not to say that oppression doesn’t exist. It does.

     Both men and women experience injustice at the hands of a system meant to laud certain traits in both men in women, while exploiting others. Men fights and die in wars more than women. Men work more dangerous jobs and account for a vast majority of workplace deaths. Women face high rates of sexual violence, sexual assault, and harassment. Women have more difficulty rising to top level job positions in large companies, and are underrepresented in politics. 

      Most sane people would look at the last paragraph and agree that these are all issues we, collectively, should care about. The systems currently in place limit the freedoms of both men and women. Most of us do not carry viewpoints that skew us into polarity on topics of gender equality. However, a very loud minority of people do. These are the voices that we tend to hear. Those that sensationalize facts, manufacture clickbait headlines, and treat identity issues as all-or-nothing endeavors where one side is right while the other is clearly wrong. Few issues are that black and white.

     We live in a polarizing time. The media pushes those stories that are most controversial. Media outlets have been rejuvenated, and given new life by the politicization of their reporting. Controversial headlines mean clicks, and clicks mean money. I would urge all media consumers to question those who seeks to monetize your struggle. The actual red pill involves the ability for all people to take step outside of their respective narratives and work towards a more equal future for everyone. I think empathy is the key. We need to see these problems collectively as, human problems that cannot be remedied without cooperation and collaboration. Dividing our causes by gender lines only worsens the issues.

Citations:
Davies, E & Jaye, C. (2016) The Red Pill. United State of America: Jaye Bird Productions


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

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

 

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

Change or Starve: Cracking Patriarchal Buddhism ll Rev. Mary Coday Edwards

Change or Starve: Cracking Patriarchal Buddhism
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA

In the days of the Buddha, in the Indian village of Kosambi, two Buddhist monks came to blows over a petty latrine infraction when one of the monks left water in the bathroom’s dipper. The dissension grew, with the law breaker being excommunicated—unfairly in his opinion, as well as in the opinion of his followers. Two factions formed around these monks, creating more discord.

Word of their animosity reached the Buddha, and he sent emissaries encouraging them to be united, and twice the emissaries reported back saying, “They refuse to be reconciled.”

The Buddha himself came to mediate, and was told by the two monks to mind his own business. The Buddha then left to go on retreat.

Due to the monks’ enmity, the spiritual needs of the community began to suffer.

Now, Buddhist traditions require the community to support the monastics through alms giving.

“This is ridiculous,” they decided. “We’re feeding these leaders for what reason?”

Halting the giving of alms, the community members told the two dissenting monks, “Change or starve.” And so the lay people accomplished what the Buddha couldn’t, and the monks resolved their differences (1).

A First Step: Full Ordination of Women

Buddhism’s foundation was built upon a political past of hierarchy, patriarchy, and authoritarianism. Buddhist theologian Rita M. Gross asks whether,

“… stripped of sexist privilege to men, patriarchal hierarchies, and androcentric interpretations of key texts and concepts, anything remains of the religion” (2).

In other words, can this religion be saved? Under this patriarchal veneer, do core truths exist that are fundamentally democratic and liberating for both men and women? Gross concludes there are, as does retired Vipassana Buddhist teacher Eric Kolvig (3), encapsulated through the Four Noble Truths (4).

Gross says that institutionalized and mandated full ordination of women is an obvious first step, granting women full participation in Buddhist institutions.

“Ordain them or starve!” said Vipassana Buddhist Teacher Eric Kolvig.

Kolvig told me the opening Kosambi story in connection with the Theravada Buddhist tradition.

“Monastics in the Theravada tradition depend for their survival entirely on support from laypeople,” he said. “The laypeople of Kosambi withdrew their support from the battling monastics and forced the antagonists to make peace.  It was the first recorded organized boycott in human history.

“The patriarchal establishment in Theravada monasticism today steadfastly refuses to grant women full ordination,” Kolvig continued.

“Because these contemporary monastics, like the ones in the Buddha’s time, depend entirely on support from laypeople in order to survive, we can be inspired by that boycott 2,500-plus years ago.  We laypeople today can withdraw our support from those who will not grant women full ordination, saying, ‘ordain them or starve!’”

Historical Precedents

Within the three Buddhist traditions of Zen, Tibetan, and Vipassana/Theravada, sub-groups exist which have in the past and continue to ordain bhikkhuni, but not necessarily granting full ordination. Elements of unfairness still remain across countries and within these three traditions. For example, women may have obligatory extra vows, called The Eight Garudharmas, subordinating them to the bhikkhus. In some countries, women end up neither bhikkhuni nor lay people, but somewhere in the middle. Not fully ordained, they are not entitled to the same recognition, status, or financial support as their bhikkhu brethren.

But within Buddhism, precedents exist justifying female ordination. Historians say that after Prince Siddhartha became the Buddha, he denied his aunt’s request, Mahapajapati Gotami—the woman who had raised him—for admission into his monastic community.

But Gotami persisted. Eventually the Buddha relented and ordained Gotami as a bhikkhuni (fully ordained Buddhist nun; male monastics are called bhikkhus), along with other women including his wife Yaśodharā. This order lasted for a thousand years, dying out through what Gross believes was institutionalized neglect as well as the discouragement of women from leaving their traditional, domestic roles behind for their own spiritual quest.

Bowing to Outdated Cultural Constructs?

Do Westerners want to give up their civil rights—legal rights guaranteed to them—such as the rights imparted to U.S. citizens through the U.S. Constitution, which include the basic right of freedom from discrimination based on certain personal characteristics, such as gender, race, or disability?

Do these same individuals want to live divided/dualistic lives, where in the political and economic spheres women can lead governments and corporations, but in their religious communities, they are subject to the whims of a male dictatorship? Where men keep half the world’s adult population as children, determining what’s “best” for them? Do we want to return to that oppression/suppression?

I left my Christian church years ago. I’d been in dialogue with the male pastors over their suppression of women’s rights when it dawned on me: “Hey! This is a volunteer organization—what am I doing? I don’t have to be a part of this.” I was a leader in my professional life, but in the church I was a child whose speech and conduct were directed by the male moral arbiters, who couldn’t—and wouldn’t—explain this dichotomy.  I withdrew my energy to direct it toward life-affirming endeavors vs. life-denying.

Ordain them or starve (5). It’s simple and powerful.

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) https://www.ancient-buddhist-texts.net/English-Texts/Buddhist-Legends/01-05.htm

2.) Buddhist theologian Rita M. Gross’, “Buddhism After Patriarchy,” in After Patriarchy: Feminist Transformations of the World Religions, eds. Paula M. Cooey, William R. Eakin, and Jay B. McDonald; 1998; Orbis Books, New York. (This question could be asked of all the world’s major religions.)

3.) Personal interview with retired Vipassana Buddhist teacher Eric Kolvig, February 2018.

4.) Many Buddhist resources exist on line and in print explaining The Four Noble Truths.

5.) Change IS happening: https://www.lionsroar.com/enlightenment-has-no-gender/; https://www.lionsroar.com/love-and-justice-the-radical-buddhism-of-rev-angel-kyodo-williams/; http://theweek.com/captured/721705/thailands-female-rebel-monks

_______

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

Abiding in Stillness ll Dorothy Wallis

Abiding in Stillness
by Dorothy Wallis

     Is the turmoil and chaos around the world impinging upon your life?  Is your level of anxiety increasing?  Do you desire relief from uncertainty and stress?  The world is rapidly changing and it may seem overwhelming to constantly experience so much change.  You may want life to be simpler, easier, and less complicated.  You may have a strong desire for peace and serenity, for all of the turbulence, disorder and conflict to stop.  You want to enter into the “good times” where life is pleasurable and you look forward to each day without worrying about anything.  You want space to breathe and relax.  You want the “noise” to stop.

When life brings you stillness…those times when nothing is happening, everything is quiet, you have time to spare without anything to do, your loved ones and friends are fine, there is no drama or concern, when there is only space and time, what happens inside of you?  Do you relish these moments?  Do enjoy the stillness?  Do you stop and just Be with the spaciousness?  Do you pause and breathe into a state of relaxation?

Does it take you some time to unwind?  Do you find your body fidgety, restless and buzzing with energy?  When you stop doing, do you find yourself thinking about all that “needs” to get done or feel guilty for not being productive?  Certainly, when your life is filled up with tasks and responsibilities, there are always more things that “need to get done.”  Yet when your chores are done and you actually have time without anything “to do” or when circumstances create time where you “can’t do”, what happens to you in those moments?  As strange as it may seem, stillness is one of the hardest states to be in.  Think about it for a moment.  What happens when you have nothing to do?  Do you feel at peace?  What happens when you are waiting in line or sitting in a meeting?  Do you take the time to be present right where you are without it needing to be different or do you become anxious, annoyed, impatient, or irritated?  Do you need others to “hurry up” and “get on with it?”

Movement is Natural and Habitual
There is a natural tendency to keep moving.  Life is movement.  Every atom, molecule and cell in your body is vibrating with energy.  Stillness can be scary or at the very least uncomfortable.  Movement is innate.  The life force propels you to develop, grow, and unfold the distinctive gifts and wisdom that are the result of the blending together of your ancestry and the accumulation of your spirit’s journey.  The body has limits and from human experience, it has an expiration date.  There is a remembrance of the body’s impermanence and an instinctive urge to make this life count, to have meaning, purpose and fulfillment.  There is a sense that “time is of the essence” along with societal admonitions of “do not put off tomorrow what can be done today.”  In other words, action and movement are built into our biology and also culturally encouraged.

Distracting from What Ails You
You may not be taking advantage of times when you could be still simply from a conditioned habit of “non-stop doing” or preoccupation with drama and external events.  At a deeper level, you might use distractions to stop yourself from taking time to be still, which may indicate an avoidance of personal issues, thoughts, behaviors or emotions that you do not want to face.
​Intolerable feelings of heartbreak, loss, disappointment, trauma, difficult life decisions and transitions may stop you from going within and being with stillness.  You may rush to be engaged with anything that will keep you from feeling hurt, the emptiness of loneliness and despair, or from knowing that you have a health issue or an insurmountable problem.  A loss of relationship and connection with another may amplify the void within.  When you are not receiving love and nurturing from others, your feelings of loneliness and pain may serve as a reflection of your inability to love and nurture yourself.  It can be very difficult to turn within and become aware of what is lacking, what has caused you pain or loss, or to see unhealthy beliefs and habits you have held.

“Nature Abhors a Vacuum”  ~ Aristotle

What is Here that Wants to be Present?
Stillness evokes a sense of emptiness, of the unknown and the void.  Aristotle, a Greek philosopher, postulated, “nature abhors a vacuum.”  He observed that whenever there was empty space, it would be filled even if it were filled with air.  You can see this phenomenon in the aftermath of a forest fire.  Rain and floods are often prevalent in the following years and very quickly dormant seeds germinate, weeds take hold, and new trees are birthed.  Before long, flora and fauna return.  We too, abhor a vacuum.  We want to quickly “fill the space and emptiness.”  Just think what happens when there is silence at a dinner party or at a seminar?  Does it feel uncomfortable?  A friend that attended an Eckhart Tolle workshop mentioned how Eckhart sat in front of the group in silence for a very long time before speaking.  His message was one of “Presence in the Heart” and by physically “Being Present” he modeled the vibration and message more powerfully than speaking about it.  Do you imagine that the participants sat peacefully in the Darshan of stillness?  Most likely, the stillness began to bring up emotion.  Perhaps some of the people experienced anticipation looking around the room to see the response of others, and maybe they responded with nervous movement or laughter.

“It is in the Stillness that you Hear the Longings of Your Soul.”

Emotion is aroused in stillness.  It wants to be felt, to be seen, and for you to listen to what needs to be heard.  It is in the stillness that you hear the longings of your soul.  It is in the stillness where your guidance offers you counsel and healing.  The emptiness is filled and it is filled with your essence.  It is where your true nature is found.  Emotions are an elegant expression of energy offering you vital information about your well-being, your passions and desires, and guidance toward your highest growth.

Stillness Balances, Heals and Revitalizes Your Body
After a person has been through a lot of stress and chaos, the natural state is for the body to enter a time of stillness and emptiness in order for the body to rebalance.  It can show up as needing a lot of sleep.  You may want to withdraw from the outside world for a while.  You may be sensitive to noise and just want to “zone out.”  Your body does its best to carry out your desires, yet physically, mentally and emotionally, it needs to rest and rejuvenate to remain balanced and energized.
Abiding in stillness will help you revitalize your physical body.  Stillness gives brain cells time and space to regenerate, with less sensory input silence and stillness replenish your brain and body’s energy and resources, it gives your pre-frontal cortex rest from the burden of processing, organizing, decision making and higher order thinking, and taps into an alternate mode where creativity and intuition reside.  Stress, anxiety, high blood pressure and heart rates are reduced and people sleep better when balance is achieved through silent stillness.
Free and Integrate Your Emotions
A free flow of emotions allowing them to resolve, integrate and dissipate occurs, instead of being “stuck” inside of your body, when you touch them in stillness.  It is the build up of suppressed and bottled up emotion, which becomes destructive.  Emotion is energy and when it accumulates, the pressure cannot be contained without outwardly exploding or internally damaging your physical body causing illness and disease.  Mental disturbances and cognitive dissonance may occur resulting in a breakdown of mental health.

Feel Safe Exploring Stillness
     If you have been avoiding or are fearful of stillness, you might invite a friend or a person you enjoy and trust to sit together in stillness.  Sit in an energy or place that you love and where you feel safe.  Allow yourself to be a bit uncomfortable as you experience the feelings and sensations that arise.  If difficult emotions arise, breathe and relax into the sensations.  Take a break if needed.  If you feel they are too intense for you to process, find a therapist to help.  Know that you are in control.  Sit for as short or as long as you desire.  Take your time; you do not need to rush the process.  Begin to trust yourself and your body.  Allow yourself to experience stillness as an interesting and even exciting destination that you have not experienced before.  It is not empty.  This place of stillness is actually filled with life.  The fountain of creation is found within the void.  Find the richness of texture, sensation, feeling and subtle nuances of being and consciousness contained here.  Meet your essence, receive guidance, and discover yourself.  You will be rewarded with a newfound sense of trust, stability and confidence in the world and yourself.


Nature inherently organizes towards homeostasis and balance.  After a heightened period of chaos when everything is thrown “up in the air” a new structure will be established that adapts to the changes that have occurred.  A time of Stillness ensues as the new form stabilizes.  Developing Patience allows a person to slow down and comfortably move into Stillness.  Refer to “Dancing with Chaos” and “The Lost Art of Patience.”

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

Trusting, Confidence and Inner Peace ll Kate Heartsong

Trusting, Confidence and Inner Peace 

Trusting ourselves and that all is well in our lives is a big one for many people.  It certainly has been for me!  I have gratefully become more trusting over time, trusting myself, others, and that all really is in divine right order in my life.  Of course, we all can’t go around trusting everything, but that’s where discretion and self-trust comes in.   As you increase self-trust, your self-confidence grows!  It has a wonderful cumulative effect.

Here are two simple techniques on increasing your self-trust:

1.) Create a special altar in your home that is specific to your heart’s desires. This altar can consist of special mementos that bring a sense of peace and joy. It could include such items as a sentimental family photo, a unique rock from a place that brought you joy on vacation, a poem, or picture that ignites a certain pleasant memory; anything that brings you a feeling of love and warmth can be put on your alter.

Once you have this alter, sit next to it and just be with the essence of it and set an intention to be more trusting. As you are with these objects, choose to have positive thoughts, and choose to relax and trust all is well.

2.) You can carry with you a small cherished object that warms your heart and reminds you that all is well for you. Touch this object during the day as often as you like.

As you touch the object, you can feel in your heart and say any of the following words to help build trust:

–  I am a child of The Creator and this inherently means I am indeed taken care of on all levels. All my needs are easily met.

–  It is The Creator whom I am always with and therefore I trust that all is well in my life.

– I fully know and believe that all I need is provided for me now and always. I deeply breathe this truth into my soul.

– The Creator, You and I are one, and therefore abundance of joy, peace, and harmony are mine. I easily receive these blessings.

As I have greater trust, I have more self-confidence, and also inner peace.  This in turn contributes to more peace in the world through our collective consciousness, since we are all one connected !  Oneness !  Isn’t it grand to know you can make a positive difference?

In what ways do you create more trust within yourself?

Here’s to your confidence, joy, empowerment and fun!


Kate Heartsong is the “Confidence Coach”, motivational speaker, workshop facilitator, author and Reiki Master/Teacher.  Her passion to serve others comes from her personal journey of transformation.  Kate’s audiences and clients gain self-confidence and new heights of self-appreciation and also reduce their stress, through her deep wisdom, expertise, caring, and the Psychology and Business degrees she holds.

Kate Heartsong
303.549.0546
Kate@JoyfulRadiance.com
Website:  JoyfulRadiance.com

Beyond Mindfulness ll Erin Amundson

Beyond Mindfulness
By: Erin Amundson  

   I live a life that I love.  While I am not above feeling difficult emotions or having stressful moments, I’ve found a sweet spot to divine living that’s at least one step beyond mindfulness.  Sure, I started somewhere in being mindful, bringing conscious awareness to my thoughts, my actions, my food and my relationships.  But I quickly realized that none of this does anything for me if my subconscious mind is busy running other programs.

     If you aren’t familiar, the subconscious is the area of our brain that is responsible for things like our heart beat, our digestion, and our blood circulation.  It controls all the aspects of our functioning that our conscious mind doesn’t, kind of like our computer’s hard drive.  

All of these things happen without our conscious awareness. 

     In addition to regulating our body functions the subconscious mind also regulates some of our bad memories, sensations and emotions for us so that our conscious mind doesn’t have to carry such a heavy burden. This is a pretty ingenious survival technique, since we would actually go crazy or die in shock from too much trauma on the conscious brain.  Our subconscious handles what our conscious mind cannot. 

     If all of this isn’t enough, our Natural Technology holds the blueprint for our greatest gifts, our purpose in the world, our healthiest body, our most fulfilling relationships, and the keys to rapid healing for our conscious mind.  This is the stuff we all want in life – and it’s my mission to make sure we access it.  This is the journey to the sweet life, my friends.    

     I think most of us would say we want that sweet life, right?  Most of us try really, really hard to achieve it.  We read books, attend seminars, meditate, do yoga….and on and on.  I do all of these things, too, because I enjoy them.  Not because I believe any one is the key to my greatness.  Because, in my search for a great life, I discovered something really important.  No amount of yoga, fasting, reading or meditation is going bring me my best life if I have a wound operating out of my subconscious.   

So, I set out to heal my subconscious, and in the process, educated myself to provide healing to others. 

     NOTE: A subconscious pattern creates a problem in our life that operates automatically, without our conscious awareness or any understanding of the cause or solution.  Most of us store some form of hurt, rejection, trauma or limitation in our subconscious minds.  The most common of these are rooted in childhood because our underdeveloped brains are less capable of processing heavy emotion and experience. 

     Young children have undeveloped brains that cannot think abstractly.  We cannot separate what happens to us from who we are.  Our conscious mind also is not developed enough to deal with certain levels of pain.  This can happen with a traumatic event at any age, but our child brains are especially susceptible.  So, for example, when a child is abandoned by a parent or suffers the death loss of someone very close to them, this pain is often stored in the subconscious.  

     Then, throughout life, the subconscious creates automatic emotional, physical and sensory responses to triggers that resemble what is stored there.  For example, having an intense emotional response to a good friend wanting some alone time or a close co-worker deciding to move to another country.  To the subconscious storing the old memory of abandonment, this trigger event causes a great deal of tension in the adult relationship that feels unsolvable.   

In addition, the subconscious will cause us to make choices in our life from this automatic response based on a wound, or core shame message, we are not aware of.  Most of us are unaware that we make choices based on both the conscious and subconscious mind.   Now the wounded subconscious begins EVERY time to chose partners who end up abandoning the person.  This, of course, causes a lot of pain.

     The victim of this subconscious program usually believes they are worthy of love. They spend a lot of time in therapy trying to figure out why this keeps happening. The problem is, we can never solve a subconscious wound with our conscious, rational mind.  It doesn’t matter how smart you are, or how much you practice mindfulness, if you don’t know why you have the problem in the first place. 

     Many of us have some kind of limiting problem that feels bigger than it needs to be. 

There is some area of our lives that we just can’t seem to master no matter how smart we are, how much therapy we’ve done, or how successful we’ve been in other areas of life.  Perhaps we have the perfect partner but can’t seem to find meaning in work.  We may be happy in every area of life but have a fear of flying.  Good news.  I have a new solution for you that works – and it’s your own Natural Technology that is available to you any time.   

     Anytime we cannot consciously understand or process a problem in our life, there is an invitation to look in the subconscious.  Developing an ongoing relationship to the subconscious, learning its language, and engaging it regularly has been the key to success for me and hundreds of those I’ve worked with in the last 10 years.   If you have a problem you can’t seem to solve in your life no matter how many things you’ve tried, I encourage you to explore approaching it through the subconscious in dream work, past life regression, astrology or Depth Psychology. 

Your life WILL change.


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

Losing Connection through Connectivity ll Rich Brodt

Losing Connection through Connectivity

By: Rich Brodt

     An opinion is only that, an opinion. All opinions are valid as they are simply views or judgments based on one’s personal beliefs. Everyone is entitled to them. Everyone has opinions with which others strongly disagree. They are subjective, and certainly not conclusive.

     Opinions aren’t new. However, over the past couple decades we’ve seen the proliferation of social media platforms. It started with websites like MySpace and Friendster and has lead to social media apps like Twitter, Reddit, Instagram, Facebook, Tumblr and various others that I am probably too out of touch to be fully up to date with. These platforms have some obvious benefits. Many marginalized groups are able to hold safe space in these places, often with anonymity that can protect their identities and allow them to share more freely, allowing feelings of acceptance and validation. This can be life-saving for individuals who feel misunderstood, rejected or isolated from their peers.

     There’s also a very dark side to social media that seems to be growing; it promotes shame for certain groups while attempting to empower others. If you use Facebook, for example, you should understand that there are algorithms in place, which are designed to simply feed you ideas that agree with your worldview. While this is happening on your computer screen, there is another individual who’s beliefs differ from you being fed information that further enforces his beliefs. The more each side continues to be spoon-fed information that justifies their beliefs, the more extreme those beliefs become.

Eventually, we stop seeing people as individuals and start to judge them solely based on their stance on the controversial topic du jour.

     This leads to conflict with no resolution. Both sides, dogmatic in their beliefs name-call, shame and poke one another until the whole thing devolves into chaos. Nothing is resolved. Both sides have their beliefs reinforced again, “I am right, and the other side is either stupid or evil.” Who, with a Facebook account, hasn’t at some point scrolled through an argument over a political post and seen the thread regress into name-calling, with words like “MAGA Moron” or “Libtard” being thrown around? No one wins and the two sides move further away from any common ground.

     This is where we are. We have a cataclysmic income gap, one of the worst healthcare systems of any developed nation, a huge national debt, mass surveillance, and politicians that seem to care less and less about the actual human beings that put them in office. And this is where we will stay if we insist on being so attached to our beliefs and unwilling to empathize with the positions of others. The political climate has been so divisive, so belligerent that many people honestly believe they can’t even have a conversation with another human being based on who that human being voted for, and without any knowledge of why they decided to do so. Let’s call that what it is: ignorant. You can talk all you want about how terrible/disgusting/dumb our current Commander in Chief is, but when you shut people down based on their voicing of an opinion that is different than your own, aren’t you doing exactly what you hate him for doing?

Connection with others, in and of itself, is the key to change.

     However, the connection we seek has damaged us. Social media platforms are exploiting flaws in our psychology. If you don’t believe me, put “facebook designed to be addictive” in your search engine, and you’ll find several articles referencing a Facebook creator’s admission that the platform was designed to exploit “a vulnerability in human psychology,” and that he fears what it is doing to the brains of children who use it regularly. Many of the other social media platforms, I would wager, were designed to exploit that same flaw. In essence, we get addicted to the feedback we get from social media, and so we return to it over and over again. We get a dopamine hit from writing a scathing response to someone. This phenomenon has caused such turmoil in our brains that we are actually giving ourselves a little chemical reward for publicly being terrible to another human being. This is highly disturbing.

     The way I see it, the more we’re looking down into our phones, computers and tablets, then the less we are looking at the faces of people we walk by on the street.

On the internet, things are safer, we can easily pick out the groups that share our opinions and sink comfortably into an echo chamber, where we can avoid true conflict resolution. This echo chamber then reinforces the most extreme parts of an individual’s beliefs by creating an environment where anyone who speaks out, however reasonably, in opposition is immediately ridiculed, bullied, shamed and often threatened. We can’t learn to reason intelligently about topics, and actually address the issues when there is no room for discourse. It is essential that, as individuals, we seek out and dialog with those who are different from us. I don’t think we need to step away from social media entirely, rather, I think we need to spend more time reminding ourselves that every individual we interact with is more than just a simple opinion, more than just a username and avatar, more than a meme. We are far too complex for that sort of reductive thinking.


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

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

 

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

Overcoming a Holiday Hangover ll Lora Cheadle

How to Overcome a “Post Holiday Hangover.”
By: Lora Cheadle

     Welcome to January! You know, that month where you realize that you did, in fact, gain too much weight over the holidays. And then, mid-month, when credit card statements come in the mail, you also realize that you spent way too money. And later on, near the end of the month, you realize that somehow, despite your best intentions, you have already blown your New Year’s Resolutions. In other words, by the end of the month, most of us feel some combination of being unhealthy, broke and depressed.

     But don’t despair! No matter how bad you blew it over the holidays, (honestly!) you can still recover. All it takes is a little forgiveness, awareness, and wisdom. With these three simple steps, you can get back on track and have a happy, healthy and prosperous 2018, no matter what transpired over the holidays!

Forgive Yourself

     The first, and most important place to start, is in your own heart and soul. We all make mistakes. Yes, you may have drank too much, sent an embarrassing text, lost a job, spent too much money, quit working out, yelled at your sister; whatever. The first step is learning how to forgive yourself. Learning to love yourself, unconditionally.

     It doesn’t matter what you did. You did it. It happened, and you have to deal with it, and yourself. Forgiveness is not about absolving oneself from guilt. Nor is it about making excuses or laughing something off. It’s about digging deep, realizing the full extent of your mistake and owing what happened. It’s about understanding the full impact of your actions, the consequences to yourself, and those around you.

     It’s about identifying the emotions around your actions, feeling your shame, embarrassment, guilt; and dealing with those emotions. When we allow ourselves to feel and acknowledge our emotions, they guide us towards right action. Whether that means making amends, moving on or getting help for ourselves. Understanding our actions on an emotional as well as a cognitive level allows us to fully process and release our actions. Instead of stuffing our feelings down, we learn from them, and we grow healthier and wiser in the process.

     Truly forgiving oneself is not easy. Nor can it be accomplished overnight. Forgiveness is a process that, like grief, has many stages. Keep working on it! The past cannot be undone. Put yourself in somebody else’s shoes. If they did what you did, would you forgive them? We tend to be much harder on ourselves than we are on others. Extend yourself the same courtesy.

Understand the Impact of Your Behavior on Others

     Next, seek to understand your actions and the consequences of your actions. Not why you did what you did, but what you did Moving into the why’s tends to create blame. It doesn’t’ matter why you spent too much, reached out to your ex, yelled at your children, or got drunk. It only matters that you did.

     What is the result of your behavior? What did it create in your life that wasn’t there before? What are the consequences? Not the potential consequences or the watered down consequences, but the actual consequences to yourself as well as to others? Make a list. Ask around. Be open to learning, to understanding the impact of your decisions.

     Once again, put yourself in another person’s shoes. If someone had done this to you, what would you want them to do? Do that! Or quite simply, ask others what they would like you to do in order to make amends. Seek first to understand. Fix what you can fix. Let the rest go. It’s time to look forward, not back.

Rejoice in Choice

     One of the biggest mistakes people make when moving ahead and creating positive changes in their lives is putting too much pressure on themselves. Dreaming big is wonderful but we need to be realistic too. Dreams are not accomplished overnight. Two steps forward, one step back is to be expected. Remember the age-old question – How do you eat an elephant? The answer is – One bite at a time!

     Yes, you can get your finances back on track. You can lose the weight. You can be happy. But maybe not overnight. Every day we have multiple opportunities to choose. Choosing to make coffee at home instead of going out seems like a simple choice, but coupled with other small choices, it becomes monumental. Choose to smile, to hold doors open for others, to pack a healthy lunch. Choose to donate, swap or borrow instead of buy. Call your credit card company and ask to have your interest rate lowered. Read articles on managing debt. Take a walk. Go to the library and check out workout books or DVDs. Meditate. Pray. Choose kind words. Forgive others. Choose tolerance. Breathe in. Breathe out. Make every choice count.

     Grant Yourself the Serenity to Accept the Things you Cannot Change, the Courage to Change the Things you Can, and the Wisdom to Know the Difference

     Make a list of things you can control and all the things you can’t control. We can never truly control others, but we can always control ourselves. Yes, we may be fat, broke and miserable. Our life may indeed be filled with others who impact us negatively. We may be burdened by our own past actions. But we can’t control the past. We can only control ourselves in the future.

     We can control each moment, each choice, exactly as it comes to us. Each moment. And the moment after that. And the moment after that. Our lives are lived one day at a time. Days are nothing but a collection of moments, a collection of choices. Choose wisely. Remain conscious. It’s the only way to change your life.

     Forgive yourself. Witness and learn for your mistakes. Then choose again. The next moment is always there, presenting us with another opportunity to choose.

     So what do you choose? Joy, happiness, prosperity and health are literally just a collection of moments away. Every moment is a choice, and every choice moves us towards our goal or away from it. Accept that which you cannot change, and have the courage to create a future that you can be proud of. Yes, we can all be healthy, happy and prosperous. It’s simply a matter of choice.

Just like eating the elephant, life isn’t lived all at once. Life is lived in a series of bite-sized moments. Choose each moment wisely.


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

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

Light and Dark: Living a Seasonal Mythos ll Mary Coday Edwards

Blog 21
Light & Dark: Living a Seasonal Mythos
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA

     Like a light dusting of snow covering a bleak industrial landscape, our religious leaders cloak crass and frenetic Christmas consumerism with a barren literal religiosity, embedding the Christ mythos into the Santa mythos in order to sanctify our materialistic voraciousness.

     For those of you who barely endure this season, can you scrape off that corrosive disdain and turn your gaze to a mythos of promise, perhaps through your own faith? Or instead mythologize these days through contemplation of the long nights and the returning of the sun/light, a mythos that gave succor to our ancient ancestors?

“If professional religious leaders cannot instruct us in mythological lore, our artists and creative writers can perhaps step into this priestly role.” Karen Armstrong

     A beautiful word, mythos, and infuses our lives with significance when understood in its original meaning. Myth is rooted in mythos, but it has come to mean a lie, a falsehood, or an untrue story.

     As defined in Karen Armstrong book, A Short History of Myth, myths contain universal and timeless stories that reflect and shape our lives. They provide narratives that remind us of what it is to be human, narratives that are reinforced through ritual. Our Western, enlightened society asks, “Did that actually happen?” while pre-Modern cultures were more concerned with what an event meant.

     Physicist-turned-theologian Ian Barbour in his Myths, Models and Paradigms, says a myth provides a worldview or world picture by endorsing particular ways of ordering experience and acting in daily life.

     We are a meaning-seeking species. At some point in their lives, most people will engage in mythological thinking: “It just wasn’t my time,” someone says, after barely escaping a calamity, not quite sure who or what might be controlling what’s going on behind the scenes, but only seeking to make sense of that avoided tragedy.

     In my late teens I let a rock star define my mythos. I lived out Paul Simon’s lyrics: “I am a rock, I am an island. I touch no one and no one touches me.”

     As an 18-year-old freshman at university I ate soybeans as a paid experimental guinea pig for a month so I could travel alone to the UK for three weeks: “I don’t need people,” I told myself.  Navigating a new culture at 18 where strangers compassionately came to my rescue more often than I cared to admit, I was lonelier and more miserable than at any other time in my life. I returned chastened.

     I took Simon’s song literally and isolated myself, whereas Simon’s universal truth/myth relates to being grounded inwardly in who we are, vs. being tossed about like a rudderless ship based on our perceived notion of others’ opinions of us—and therefore being under their control. One hour we’re up—“She said nice things about me! I’m so together!” and the next hour we’re down: “No one ‘liked’ my Facebook post. I am such a loser.”

     Unknown to me at the time, that traveling and insecure 18-year-old was living out other universal and timeless truths/myths, which Joseph Campbell names in his hero/heroine’s journey (Note 1).

     As an initiation from childhood to adulthood, the protagonist leaves the comfortable nest, experiences the road of trials with its tests, enemies, and unexpected allies, and returns wiser.

     I did return wiser: humans function best living in community. But because I was miserable, I wrongly concluded that I was incapable of making good decisions and jettisoned the entire adulthood effort and crawled back into childhood. I joined the Jesus Movement which soon morphed into an authoritarian hierarchy controlled by the patriarchy.  I regressed to the “father” controlling my life.

     And because—for those of who are mentally capable—adulthood/maturity is our destination, this mythos, too, would be rearranged. But that’s a story for another day.

What mythos informs your holiday season?

     When celebrating this season, many find themselves around the middle on a continuum with “Everything Non-Religious” on one end, and “Everything Religious” on the opposite—which this year includes Christianity, Judaism, and Paganism/Wiccan.

     Jesus may be ONE of the reasons for the season—but not THE reason. December 25? Fake news: Pope Julius 1 in the 4th Century officially designated it as Jesus’ birthday in order to Christianize the Pagan festivities already occurring around the Winter Solstice, OR the god Saturnalia, OR Mithra’s birthday the Iranian god of Light, OR the unconquered sun god of the Romans Sol Invictus, OR Egypt’s god Ra—take your pick. Most Christian historians and scholars believe Jesus could not have been born in the winter months of December, but MAY have been born in March. But look deeper: What’s the mythos embedded in this story? Titled the light of the world, Jesus calls us to be imitators of him. For those who follow Jesus, what does that look like for you?

     This year Hanukkah, the Jewish Festival of Lights, began Tuesday, Dec. 12 and ends Wednesday, Dec. 20. Hanukkah centers around the lighting of the nine branches of the menorah, commemorating the successful Jewish revolt against their Greek-Syrian rulers in the second century B.C. The story goes that in rededicating the Jewish temple by lighting the traditional seven-lamp menorah, they found only enough uncontaminated ritual oil for one day. The one-day oil lasted for eight—thus Hanukah’s eight-day celebration. The menorah itself stands for light, wisdom, and Divine inspiration.

     Unlike other Jewish holidays, Hanukkah is not mentioned in the Jewish scriptures.  Is this mythos? Not necessarily an untrue story, but a story based in an actual event which contains universal truths for how Jews make sense of their world, truths that give meaning to their lives.

     Pagan and Wiccan celebrations of the Northern Hemisphere’s Winter Solstice remind us that the sun will return. It’s the promise of light returning to the world. Pre-Christ astronomers observed that at a certain point the days began to get longer—the season of starvation and pestilence was winding down. To ward off death and disease, centuries before Christianity the Scandinavian Vikings believed their sun god Balder particularly favored evergreens and hung them up to court his favor, while other Pagan cultures believed evergreens warded off evil spirits. Festivities sprung up, honoring what’s now called Winter Solstice.

     Advent means the arrival of a notable person, thing, or event. Pagan cultures prepared for their Advent—the return of the sun—by honoring the night, a time of rest and restoration for the land and its many creatures. Of course, minimal resources to spend on candles or torches encouraged this withdrawal into their caves—and perhaps into themselves, where stories, songs and poems spring from.

     During this season of Advent peace settles over me as I sink into the deep rhythms of nature and that transcendent Energy flowing through all life.

     Can the seasonal drift toward the coming light infuse your spirit with hope?  What symbols within your mythos resonate within you? Can you lift beauty from the core mystery of what remains? Can you be a light-bringer to those around you? Can you sit with the dark, the night—symbolic often for suffering—and contemplate what life holds for you?

     If any words in this blog pinged your psyche/spirit, sit with them mindfully: paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, and nonjudgmentally (Note 3).

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Notes & Sources:

1.) On myth: Maureen Murdock’s The Heroine’s Journey, Joseph Campbell’s The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Carl Jung’s map of the soul, Clarissa Pinkola-Estes work on fairy tales, and Ian Barbour and John Polkinghorne on the intersections of science and religion.

2.) “Where did Christmas Come From?” https://biblethingsinbibleways.wordpress.com/tag/winter-solstice/; the author uses excerpts from various documents.

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

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

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

The Lost Art of Patience: an Antidote to Stress and Chaos ll Dorothy Wallis

The Lost Art of Patience: an Antidote to Stress and Chaos

By Dorothy Wallis

     As the year winds down, you may still be feeling the intensity of the tumultuous changes that have been taking place in your life and in the world.  The Chaos discussed in October’s blog continues.  For many it has been a stormy and uncertain time not knowing what it means for the future of the children and upcoming generations, the economy, the environment and the human species.  On a more personal level, you may be anxious about your own future.  There is a heightened sense of concern about matters that were once taken for granted or ignored.  Major upheaval in the world is challenging to your sense of safety and security. 

     Anytime your safety or security is threatened there is an urgency to act.  Action may mean shutting down or protecting yourself in ways that create distance rather than connection.  The current challenges are pushing you toward both an internal and external purifying catharsis beyond primal reaction.  The opportunity presented is for you to realize your ability to choose.  You get to decide how you will respond.  You can move through the initial “whoosh” of dread, fear and anger by staying present to all of the physical and emotional sensations arising and allowing them to just “Be” without acting upon them.  You can choose to be with “what is” happening in the moment.  Having choice enables you to move from feeling helpless, powerless and at the mercy of your experience to one of knowing you are capable of going through it.  It gives you strength and authentic empowerment.  Staying present requires a commitment to being aware of your experience and patient with yourself.  

     Patience is a skill that takes practice.  It is easy to fall back into judging your ability to be still before acting or to not distract yourself from your experience.  Nothing in our culture reinforces patience: quite the opposite.  Being still, not talking, stopping before making a decision, contemplating, slowing down, daydreaming……any and all of these are not generally encouraged in our fast paced culture that rewards output and productivity.  When were you told that it was okay for you to take your time?  Just listen to our language about doing nothing: laziness, idleness, indolence, sluggishness, lethargy, dragging your feet, dawdling, dilly-dallying, procrastinating and even more demeaning indignations ad infinitum.  Being called a daydreamer, deadbeat, slug, bum, slacker, loafer, lazybones, airhead, procrastinator…or any variation of these, brings with it a blast of shame.  If you are not actively doing “something,” you are judged as “wasting” time or being indulgent and self absorbed.  Doing nothing is socially reprehensible.  We shame others and we shame ourselves.  Just notice your inner critic when you are “not doing.”  The closest we get to a socially acceptable mode of “not doing” is “Chilling out” and that usually happens when you are so overwhelmed or “burned out” that you have to stop doing or become ill.  Meditating is an exception because it is thought of as an activity.  Meditation is an intentional action, which is an excellent way to develop the stillness in patience.

     Patience is not your first response to stress or chaos.  Your first reaction is to quickly and as soon as possible get rid of the stress and calm down the chaos.  What usually happens is more stress and chaos from impetuously reacting to external events with alarm and drama.  It is an enormous task to subdue disturbances outside of yourself.  The idea of calming down the external chaos is a clue to the real antidote, which is to calm down your inner experience.  This is done through skilled Patience. 

     In order to have patience, you first have to be okay with the whole idea of being patient.  Instead of feeling guilty or pressured for taking your time, not acting quickly, and being thoughtful, you must know that there is great benefit to being patient.

The Benevolent Benefits of Patience

The stillness of patience calms the chattering mind.  Your parasympathetic nervous system quiets and composes the body into a harmonious rhythm.  Your mental, physical, and emotional health all improve through the friendly cooperation of a tranquil and balanced physiology.  When your body is working together in harmony and alignment, it functions better.  You think more clearly and are able to perceive what is actually happening around you.  Your ability to be informed from all of your senses is sharper.  Your intuition is heightened as the higher functions of the brain engage and connect with the compassionate wisdom of your heart.  Decisions you make use the entire scope of your knowledge and senses while extending your awareness to limitless dimensions.  Patience opens the gateway to creativity.  It is in the stillness that you are able to touch the deeper level where source wisdom resides. 

It is in the stillness that you are able to touch the deeper level where source wisdom resides.

     Patience is practical.  You make fewer mistakes with forethought and planning.  People skilled at patience are nice to be around; they are easy-going, even-tempered and generally unflappable.  They respond with attentiveness to others needs and so reach out with kindness and generosity.  The kindly atmosphere of patience extends to your personal well-being.  Stress and depression are diminished, as you are able to face annoyances and disturbances with less anxiety, frustration and despair.  You become more tolerant and forgiving of discord.  As your tolerance increases, you are able to persevere through difficulty and hardship, which enhances your ability to meet and achieve your goals.  

The Artful Practice of Patience

     Patience means “Being With” whatever is in your field of experience.  It is calmly waiting in times of adversity without the need to do or act.  There is an art to practicing the skill of patience.  It is both mindful and heartful.  A profoundly powerful way is to lovingly and quietly connect with your body while observing and feeling whatever is moving inside of you.  Your focus turns inward.  Instead of judging your experience with your thoughts, you are present to the physical sensations in your body while being equanimous with the feelings that arise.    

     Patiently staying present to the sensations and feelings increases your emotional resiliency as well as your ability to regulate your emotional reactions.  Emotional resilience is the “magic elixir” that increases your ability to handle stressful situations.  You are able to adapt to crisis and adversity without lasting issues.  Remarkably, this patient adaptability to crisis can allow a person to experience horrendous traumatic events without contracting PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).

     Through the practice of waiting and observing, you develop a greater level of self-control and discernment.  Your thoughts do not jump to conclusions and you are less likely to automatically blame, project onto or dramatize outer events.  A calm mind and heart allows you to experience the subtle joys of life.  You see life as an ever-changing fluid terrain of impermanence.  Wonder and curiosity return and you experience with good humor, the mystery of life’s challenges and opportunities.

Patience is Felt and is a Gift for Everyone

     The current human and planetary crises can be seen as a “wake up call” and on an even grander scale seen as an advantageous design to raise the level of human consciousness.  Seen in this light, instead of contracting into isolation or allowing frustration to overwhelm you into destructive habits, with patience, you can skillfully expand into what is present and determine actions and behaviors that are beneficial for you and others.  You decrease the stress and chaos in the world through your patience. 

Giving the Gift of Patience brings Peace and Harmony into the World

      As you gather with friends, co-workers, family or are just “out and about” in your neighborhood during this holiday season, take time to stop, breathe and appreciate.  You make a difference in the world by practicing patience.  Each day take in the beauty of life, observe the hustle and bustle with delight, say a kind word to the cashier at the counter, slow down and allow the car merging into traffic to go in front of you, listen patiently to your partner, your child, your friend and to those you do not know and notice how your patience influences those around you.  Take time to give the Gift of Patience.  It will bring you an abundance of contentment and joy.


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

www.TheDorWay.com and www.Heartfulnesspath.com

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

An Ode to the Garden of Home || Dorothy Wallis

An Ode to the Garden of Home

By Dorothy Wallis

     Sunbeams, blue sky and daily temperatures rising into the high 70’s beckon me into the garden.  Sweet birdsong from robins, finches and doves lighten my mood.  The bright blue jacketed jays distinctly stand out as they sit in tree branches just beginning to bud out.  I feel drawn to the mystery taking place under the dry leaves.  Finding my garden gloves and wielding one lawn rake, one shrub rake, my favorite Felco pruners, and garden shears, I venture into the orchard.  It feels so good to stretch my arms and limbs in the rhythmic motion of raking the leaves and shriveled stems off of the candytuft.  Luscious green mounds appear to float above the ground.  In just weeks these mounds will be covered in a cloud of tiny white blossoms.  Each motion of my rake uncovers more jewels of lime green shoots popping up out of the orchard bed.  Blooms of purple, yellow and white crocus and early yellow and white daffodils show their sunny faces.  Is it a trick of my eyes or am I actually seeing the wild strawberry plants dotting the sides of the stone pathways unfurling their leaves and reaching towards the light?

     The birds are very busy steadfastly scouting locations for their nests and building them.  They are not bothered by my presence nor by my cat as she stalks a vole under the low boughs of the Colorado Spruce.  The sap is rising; the buds are swelling and life is returning to the tips of the apple and pear trees.  The ruby red calyxes dripping off every twig crown the ‘Red Sunset’ maples with a regal garment of majesty.

     I trim last years stalks down to the base of the peonies and discover plump burgundy sprouts waiting to make their run to the sky.  Once released from the dark womb of creation the sovereign Paeonia surges growth of incomparable speed as it must burst its beauteous explosion of voluptuous bounty for all to see.  My heart expands with the joy of the promise of its magnificently rich buxom blossoms. 

     Another aristocrat is already showing off her pristine stellated tutu of white.  Lucky for her, Royal Star Stellata Magnolia, may actually get to pirouette and dance an entire month to entice the bees before a notorious Colorado spring snow deflates her.  She is offering a very special gift this year, as I cannot remember a year when she has so enthusiastically displayed such a flourishing abundance of bloom.  I feel her thankfulness for the years of appreciation of her splendor and for tending to her needs.

     It is a bittersweet pang of nostalgia and gratitude I feel for every being in this garden that has taught me and nurtured my growth.  In a few short months, I will be leaving this garden and moving on. 

     When I first came to this land, it was barren of trees and shrubs.  Sloping down to the south, a split rail fence fringed the property line before sharply falling to an open space meadow filled with cattails and grasses skirting a wending farmers canal.  Delicate native Prickly White Poppy wove and wildly interlaced itself between lush grasses.  It was glorious in its natural state and I could envision the home I had designed snugly nestled into it.  Purchasing and inhabiting the land began a new adventure. 

     One day while our home was being built, my three-year-old daughter and her dad went for a walk in our established Denver neighborhood and gathered maple wing seeds.  They put them in pots and placed them safely under the immense spread of the canopy of the old lilac shrub.  Early settlers brought this old fashioned variety from the mid west to the region; its fragrance and lavender color are legendary.  The maple seeds sprouted and grew into long thin stems.  We were amazed to discover that lilacs had also seeded themselves into the pots.  They grew full and lush as the months passed.  Finally, it was time to transport them to their new home.  Gently teasing the roots apart, the maples and lilacs became the first plants to settle into the new land. 

     Plans and visions emerged.  “What a gift; here is land that I get to touch with the joy and beauty I envision.”  Tedious hours spent tilling, shaping the land, building beds, amending the soil with compost, planting, cultivating and tending bestow an ever changing harmony of creation.  The land is impressed with the memory of each creature, plant and being that dwells and dies here.  What unfolds is more than a place for my artistic expression.  Nature has her own desires.  Plants grow, some thrive, some die, some become sentinels sheltering newbies and providing rich humus for wild vagabonds to join the community.  One of the beloved seed grown maples grows into a glorious beauty stretching her arms out and shading the dining room window through many summers.  An infamous spring storm dashes through bringing heavy wet snow breaking her main trunk.  We mourn her passing not only for her greatness but also for the loss of not realizing the future legacy of seeing her grow into old age, which was the sacred intention of the child and father that planted those seeds.  Yet, surprisingly the thin weak looking straggly maple at the back of the yard from those same seeds takes on the job of being the sole survivor and grows into the tallest tree on the property.  He slowly and patiently rises straight and tall before opening his arms outward as if a germ of wisdom calculated the angle and thickness of branches needed to bear the weight of wet snow in order to minimize the risk.  He still stands…for now. 

     Another prized tree, a sweet Cherry, grows a very thick shiny rust colored trunk with equally large shiny leaves.  She is radiant and captures the attention of all who see her.  The birds check on the ripening berries each spring day, tasting them and spitting out the sour ones.  The ground is littered with the debris.  We are happy to savor the sweet ones the flocks have left on the lower branches. 

      Unfortunately for the birds, and us, at twenty-two years her life ended abruptly.  High temperatures in November preceded a dramatic freezing drop.  Many fruit trees, including cherries and plums, had not gone dormant; their sap froze, swelled and burst the walls supplying life-giving nutrition.  Months later, it was painful to see her brittle bare branches when all of the other trees were green with life.  It took some time to remove her as our hearts wept.  In her place a red twig dogwood gallantly and courageously planted itself, mirroring the shiny rouge of her bark.

     Hardier species of evergreens, trees, and plants continue to adapt and bear the brutal force of nature’s onslaught along with nature’s bountiful grace.  With every plant that dies, a new one makes its entrance.  Drifts of enchanting species emerge, make a bold appearance and have their day.  Just like life, the garden is an ever-changing, self-renewing kaleidoscope. 

     The wee child has grown.  I honor this land that has given support to dreams, taught me patience, resilience and that struggle and sadness mixed with great joy are all necessary aspects of growth.  I fall in love with every life form and delight in the uniqueness of their being.  My heart hurts at their passing and my heart trumpets at the arrival of a fresh discovery.  Change is constant and the lesson is to treasure the beings and people that inhabit my world.  This land has bequeathed a divine gift to me, my family, and friends, teaching us what it truly means to love and be in relationship with one another and with life.  Reflecting on what has been and what will be brings a deeper appreciation for the precious moments and movement that create a rich life. 

It all adds up to love of Home.


Doubt…Creator of Mountains || Jenny St. Claire

Doubt…Creator of Mountains

By: Jenny St. Claire

You are about to do something where you will be truly seen and a feeling comes over you –  you’re frozen or shaking on the inside, maybe both, and thoughts start quietly sliding into your consciousness.  As the seconds go by, the volume escalates until they are screaming at you:

What if I’m not good enough for my partner’s family?

What if I can’t actually do this job I’m so passionate about?

What if I’m too (fat, hairy, flat-chested, zitty, wrinkly, old) for someone to love me?

What if I can’t earn enough money to care for my family?

What if I don’t fit in because I do/feel/think differently than everyone else?

What if people find out that I’m not as perfect as they think I am?

Sound familiar?  The common denominator in all of these thoughts is doubt.

“Your faith can move mountains and your doubt can create them.” ~ unknown

Doubt is defined as a feeling of uncertainty about the truth, reality, or nature of something.  Further, it is a hesitation to believe.  When we’re doubting the truth or nature of ourselves, it can be debilitating.  It can keep us from taking any step leading toward what we’re wanting in life.  On a deeper level, if we’re hesitating to believe in ourselves, the pain can slam us right to the core.  Ultimately, doubt can spark shame, which is the felt sense that we are bad.

According to Brené Brown, in her book Daring Greatly, we have twelve areas that can trigger our shame: appearance and body image, money and work, motherhood/fatherhood, family, parenting, mental and physical health, addiction, sex, aging, religion, surviving trauma and being stereotyped. 

In addition to our shame filled culture, we also buy into the idea of lack.  Brené believes this sense of shortage extends to how we perceive ourselves.  Fill in the blank of this sentence: “I am never _________ enough.”  How many sentences can you come up with?  Spend a week investigating these pervasive messages and you’ll probably discover more than you were aware of.

These kinds of thoughts are painful!  Since we don’t really want to be present with our doubts, we have a tendency to turn away from them.  Brené outlines in her book a variety of ways we do this (which I’ve summarized): numbing with alcohol, drugs, sugar, food, sex, social media and technology is incredibly common.  Other ways we avoid doubt are perfectionism, trying to control everything, playing the role of victim, oversharing, or becoming critical.

The bottom line is this:  whenever you want to take a step where you might feel vulnerable, doubt will rear its head.  At best, it will only make you pause.  At worst, it will stop you in your tracks.

When you step back and look at yourself and your life as a whole, do you really want doubt to hold you back?  Would you rather risk being vulnerable, really being seen for who you are, in order to create connections with others?  To make your dreams a reality?

If you’re willing to find the courage to open to vulnerability, to choose to believe in yourself, here are a few things that can help you through:

  1. Notice if you’re numbing out. If so, what are you avoiding?  Facing a hard truth will be uncomfortable for a little while, but it’s better than using your energy to avoid it for a lifetime.
  2. Remember all of the fears you have already overcome. How did you overcome them?  Try it again.
  3. Get in touch with what you want more: having what you desire or being stymied by doubt.
  4. Decide to wonder. I wonder what it will be like when I succeed…  I wonder if it will all go better than I’m thinking it will…  These kinds of questions open you up to possibility.
  5. Brené suggests finishing this sentence, “I’m feeling vulnerable and I’m grateful for ________.”

I’ve heard it said in many ways that happiness is just outside your comfort zone.  Doubts keep you within the safety of your comfort zone.  In order to reach happiness, we need to embrace vulnerability and choose to believe in ourselves.  Here’s to you!


About the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

In the Land of Pain: Grieving a Suicide || Mary Coday Edwards

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

March 10, 2017

Ranking 10th highest in the nation, Colorado’s suicide rate of 20 per 100,000 residents is more than 65% higher than the national average of 13.8. In 2015, about three Coloradoans per day chose to kill themselves.

Research suggests that for every suicide, at least six people experience a major life disruption, but it can impact up to 25.

The Walking Wounded

That’s a lot of sad, suffering people (see chart ).

Entity, 2015 Rate, Per 100,000 population+ Total Deaths Total Population Suicide Loss Survivors, @ 6/ Suicide Suicide Loss Survivors, @ 25/ Suicide
U.S. 13.8 44,193 321,418,820 265,000 1,105,000
Colorado 20.0   1,093     5,466,000     6,560       27,325
Denver County 13.9       94        682,000       564        2,350

Sources:  See Notes 1 & 2.

+Suicide rate = (number of suicides by group / population of group) X 100,000

Some facts defining this wounding:

-The majority of men will use a firearm; women will use poison.

-Men are about four times more likely than women to die of suicide, but three times more women than men report attempting suicide.

-Nearly all completed suicides are among individuals with mental illness.

-Nationally, one suicide occurs every 11.9 minutes; therefore, there are either six or 25 new suicide loss survivors every 11.9 minutes.

-In the United States, suicides outnumber homicides about two to one.

-At-risk population groups are men over age 75 and in mid-life.

-Other groups include:

     -young people struggling with their sexual orientation/identification,

     -veterans and military personnel, and

     -Native Americans.

In this blog, I’m not addressing assisted suicide or Western attitudes of fear and perhaps terror over death.

Nor will I focus on the morality of suicide: “is it right/wrong, good/bad?”

Instead, my focus is on the suffering of suicide loss survivors.

“ … you learn to dance with the limp.” ― Anne Lamott

Grief is messy, not so neat and tidy as the drawing on the left, which shows grief actually stopping before it ends.

The picture on the right not only shows a back-tracking, circuitous entanglement with grief, but more accurately, we don’t just dust our hands off and walk away. The arrow continues.

We as a species are hard-wired to grieve; it’s the universal, instinctual, and adaptive reaction to the loss of a loved one. It’s normal.

I like that idea.

We come packaged not only to love, but to grieve the loss of our loved ones (3).

We are equipped to mourn death.

But suicide loss short-circuits that instinct.  

Grief Reactions and Characteristics

Grief has been described as one of the most painful experiences an individual ever faces. In his work on suicide bereavement, Illiant Tal Young (4) subcategorizes grief as follows:

Acute grief: the initial painful response, characterized by numbness, shock, and denial, anguish, loss, anger, guilt, regret, anxiety, fear, intrusive images, depersonalization. Constant feelings of anguish and despair eventually give way to showing up as waves or bursts – pangs of grief. A memory hits us when we’re least expecting it. For me, a dearly beloved passed about six months ago, and I’m hit with this loss when I catch myself saying, “I must tell Bob about this.” And then remember I can’t, at least not in the way I used to.

Integrated grief: Under most circumstances, acute grief instinctively transitions to integrated grief. Signs of this happening include the ability of the bereaved to recognize that they have grieved, to be able to think of the deceased with equanimity, to return to work, to re-experience pleasure. For many, new wisdom and strengths, as well as broader perspectives emerge in the aftermath of loss.

Complicated grief (CG) is a bereavement response in which acute grief is prolonged, causing distress and interfering with day-to-day functioning. Acute grief remains persistent and intense and does not transition into integrated grief. CG is sometimes labeled as prolonged, unresolved, or traumatic grief.  

And it is in this land of complicated grief that suicide loss survivors often dwell.

More than Feelings of Loss, Sadness, and Loneliness

Questions haunt their existence: “Why didn’t I see the symptoms?” “Why didn’t I do more?” “Why wasn’t I there for her?”

Not seeing all the factors that went into the choice for suicide, the bereaved takes on unnecessary responsibility, resulting in self-blame.  The suicide is seen as an event that could have been prevented.

Survivors may feel abandoned, rejected, or angry at the deceased for “checking out”, leaving their loved ones behind.

In some cases, suicide is still stigmatized – along with mental illness. This can keep the bereaved stuck in shame, afraid to truthfully discuss the cause of death. Isolated from the community, they cut themselves off from counseling and the support of loved ones.

The majority of suicide methods involve considerable violence to the body, which can leave the survivors in trauma. Suicide loss survivors are more likely than other bereaved individuals to develop symptoms of PTSD.

And suicide loss survivors are at a greater risk of committing suicide themselves.

“Some things in life cannot be fixed. They can only be carried.” – Megan Divine

Summarizing, Young says treatment should include the best combinations of education, psychotherapy, and pharmacotherapy, often with a focus on depression, guilt, and trauma.

Through mindfulness practices, the bereaved can train in paying attention non-judgmentally to their body’s stress signals.  They learn to respond vs. react to the flight-or-fight chemicals coursing through their bodies, spawned by emotions of self-blame, anger, rejection, and possible stigma-induced shame.

Support groups have proved invaluable to those finding themselves unable to talk with family or community members.

And as always, People House ministers, counselors, therapists, and staff are here to assist individuals and families navigating this painful territory. People House contact details are provided on our home page at https://www.peoplehouse.org/ as well as a drop-down menu listing People House Practitioners.

_______                                                                              

Notes & Sources:

1.)USA Suicide: 2015 Official Final Data. American Association of Suicide. http://www.suicidology.org

2.)Denver County Births & Deaths 2015: http://www.chd.dphe.state.co.us/Resources/vs/2015/Denver.pdf

3.)Exceptions are there, of course, when mental illness robs us of that capability and/or childhood trauma – to name only two.

4.) Young, Iliant Tal, et al. Suicide Bereavement and Complicated Grief, Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience. https://ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3384446/ Published 0nline June 2012

________

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:

 

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Unhypnotizing Your Bad Habits || Lora Cheadle

Kicking Bad Habits by Un-Hypnotizing, or Dehypnotizing, Yourself 

By: Lora Cheadle

Waking up From Everyday Brainwashing

Many people use hypnosis in order to overcome subconscious blocks and create positive change in their life. But sometimes, the faster, more efficient rout to change is learning how to becoming un-hypnotized, or dehypnotized in our everyday life. Learning how to wake, up, become conscious, and take steps to dehypnotize ourselves, is fast, easy and effective. And the resulting change can be profound!

We’ve probably all heard about subliminal messages, brainwashing, compulsion and mind control. To some degree, these phrases all describe what is simply; a hypnotic state. Contrary to popular belief, most of the everyday brainwashing that happening is not the result of some evil master-mind, potting to take over the world. Everyday brainwashing is simply the result of us living in a modern, busy, distracted and stressed-out society.

If you have a habit that you can’t seem to break, even though you really want to break it, you might not need therapy. Instead, you might need to learn how to dehypnotize yourself from your own brainwashing! You might simply need to wake up from a chronic state of hypnosis that has kept you locked into undesirable thoughts or behaviors.

How Brainwashing Works

Hypnosis is a natural state that we move into and out of about seven times a day. When we engage in any type of repetitive, or mindless activity, we tend to slip into a state of hypnosis. When we are confronted with too much stimulation, too rapid of speech, or too much conflicting information, we can also slip into a state of hypnosis. TV and radio advertising is specifically designed to induce a state of hypnosis. Religious services, bombastic political speech, repetitive exercises, mealtime and smoking breaks, also tend to put us into a state of hypnosis.

Hypnosis is not scary, evil mind control. Hypnosis is simply a state of increased suggestibility, where people are more likely to take action without critically analyzing that behavior. Although hypnosis cannot persuade us to do that which we would not otherwise do, it is highly effective in persuading us to do that which we normally would do. Hence, why it’s so easy to talk ourselves into continuing on with our own negative behaviors.

How Brainwashing Occurs

Think of everyday brainwashing like this. You are zoned out on the couch, watching TV, and a commercial for pizza comes on. The commercial has bright colors, close ups of a delicious looking pepperoni pizza, and a rapid-fire, extra-loud, announcer tells you all about the latest, act-fast deals. All the while, rhythmic music is coinciding with the rapidly changing visuals. That night, you decide to order pizza, even though you are trying to eat out less or lose five pounds.

As designed, the commercial put you into a state of hypnosis. It worked on the subconscious mind, and “suggested” that the pizza was really tasty, was a great price, and created an urgency to order it. Later in the day, when you ordered pizza, you were simply acting on the advertiser’s suggestions. You were not awake enough to critically think about the consequences of your decision, so you ordered a pizza, despite wanting to eat better and takeout less. This is what every day brainwashing looks like.

Failed Diets, Smoking and Being Stuck in Hypnosis

The same thing happens each and every time we sit down to eat a meal or smoke. Part of the reason that dieting and smoking-cessation is so difficult is because eating and smoking puts us into a state of hypnosis. We literally go out of our critical mind, and into a state of unconsciousness, almost every time we eat or smoke! We become lulled by the repetitive action of smoking, chewing, swallowing, using our utensils, cutting our food and timing when we take a drink. Our senses become overloaded with the sight, smell, taste and texture of our food or our cigarette, and bam, into a state of hypnosis we go! Just like the pizza commercial example, we become highly suggestible to our own bad habits, and we eat, or smoke indiscriminately.

Conscious thought is circumnavigated, and we are no longer aware of our sensations of fullness or our desire to get healthy or create positive change. Instead we eat whatever is in front of us or wander out for a smoke break, without critically analyzing what we are doing or why. Sometimes we are so out of it mentally, that later, we can’t even remember what we ate or how many cigarettes we had!

The solution is learning how to wake up. Learning how to dehypnotize ourselves and recognize when we are being brainwashed by our own bad habits.

How to Dehypnotize Yourself

There are several ways to go about learning how to wake up, remain conscious, or dehypnotize yourself. It’s easiest to begin with something that we do consistently, like eat meals, or smoke, so we have the opportunity to practice consistently.

Whenever we are confronted with behavior that we are trying to change, try counting yourself up, into a state of full, awakened consciousness. Begin by saying silently to yourself, or out loud if you are able, “Zero, one, two, three, four, five, eyes open, wide awake!” As you say it, do something physical that makes a sound, like clapping your hands, snapping your fingers, clicking your tongue or patting your thigh. Take a deep breath, and with a forceful exhale and consciously clear your mind and focus on being alert and present. You can repeat this whenever you sense that you are slipping back into a day-dreamy or disconnected state.

Changing up as many things as possible surrounding the activity we are trying to change is also useful. If you normally sit in a certain chair, or smoke in a certain location, move to a different chair or go to a less convenient place to smoke. Eating, or smoking, with your non-dominant hand is a fantastic way to stay conscious about our own behavior. Put the phone down. Turn off the TV and concentrate on tasting the flavor, texture and temperature of every single bit. Swallow. Take a breath before taking another bite. Notice your hunger level. All of this keeps us awake, alert and out of a state of hypnosis.

Dehypnotizing Our Way Out of Bad Habits

It doesn’t matter if we are trying to quit smoking, eat less, not bite our nails, overcome stuttering, sleep better, study more effectively, declutter or meditate consistently. Learning to dehypnotize ourselves is a powerful and effective place to start.

Wake up! Get out from under your own brainwashing and see how clear you own life can be!

Avoid Empathy Burnout through Compassion || Mary Coday Edwards

Avoid Empathy Burnout through Compassion

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

January 17, 2017

2017 brings a new year, a new start, and for many, new resolutions.

This blog on compassion completes my three-part series from the 2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS; Note 1), hosted by the Mind & Life Institute (Note 2) which I attended in November.

The two previous blogs focused on staying true to yourself but yet extending loving kindness and practicing genuine concern for another’s wellbeing.

COMPASSION VS. EMPATHY – AND A HOWLING CHAIN SAW

In keeping with Mind & Life’s mission to integrate science with contemplative practices, Geshe Thupten JInpa of McGill University spoke on “Understanding the Psychology Behind Compassion Meditation.”

Compassion is a natural sense of concern that arises within us when confronted with another’s suffering and then feel motivated to see that suffering relieved.

It’s comprised of three parts: first there’s the understanding that someone IS suffering; second, we feel an emotional connection; and third, we are motivated to see the suffering relieved. And this third piece of “doing” includes the prayerful act of practicing lovingkindness toward another, of wishing the other well by connecting spiritually to our common humanity.

A significant difference between empathy and compassion is that third bit:  empathy takes us to the place where we enter emotionally into someone else’s suffering; we focus on the problem and the experience of it. If we stay in this emotional swirl, we can easily shift into “empathy burnout”.

We manifest compassion, however, when motivated to relieve that suffering; it takes on an ethical quality – a way of being.

A solution to the personal distress of empathy burnout is to shift empathy to compassion. Empathy can take a form of “feeling for” vs. the “feeling with” of compassion. 

For example, I suffered when I heard chain saws whining away in the forests in the dead of night in the poverty-ridden countries in which I’ve ived. Instead of cutting myself off from the excruciating emotional pain of an ecosystem killed and stolen, I can train my mind to move beyond my emotions to a more empowered state of “what can I do to halt illegal logging?”

And perhaps to consider the pain of poverty driving the howling chain saw.

IT CAN BE ENOUGH: THE INTENTION TO BE OPEN TO THE FIELD OF LOVE

And if because of our own pain and hurt, we cannot move into compassion, the INTENT can be enough.

Associate Professor at Claremont School of Theology Andrew Dreitcer spoke on “Practicing the Presence of Compassion: Contemplative Christian Traditions.”

Using a thousand-year-old Christian early morning practice, he led us in a process of INTENTION to be open;  i.e., when we are not capable of compassion, but we truly desire to be available to the presence of love, for ourselves and others.

First centering ourselves, he asked us to seek within us for just one word that could focus us on the intention to be open.

That word – our mantra – was then the focus of our meditation for the next 20 minutes, the idea being that then throughout the day when anger or fury arose and compassion for our fellow human beings was nowhere to be found, we could return to this word with the intent to extend compassion.

I find this process very hopeful – and helpful. Instead of throwing myself on the rocks for my lack of compassion, I can at least stay in this space of intent, knowing it is an ancient monastic tradition where it just might lead me into a “connection with an eternal, loving presence,” as Andrew called it. 

All of this is to say we CAN train in compassion. We train in order to RELEARN to relate to ourselves, others, and the world around us from a place of understanding and compassion rather than from excessive judgment.

It doesn’t happen overnight. But by me even saying I have an iota of intent, I can learn to catch myself, and perhaps begin to move into a wider place of genuine compassion – living in peace not just with others but also with myself.

_______                                                                              

Notes & Sources:

1.) ISCS “brings together scientists, scholars, artists and contemplatives to explore distinct though overlapping fields of research and scholarship, using a multidisciplinary, integrative approach to advance our understanding of the human mind.” This symposium hosted about 1,200 attendees.

2.) The mission of the Mind & Life Institute is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by integrating science with contemplative practice and wisdom traditions. https://www.mindandlife.org/mission

________

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:

Choice and Commitment || Jenny St. Claire

Choice and Commitment by Jenny St. Claire

It’s that time of year.  When January 1st rolled in, you were feeling confident and hopeful about your New Year’s Resolution.  Now that you’re three weeks in, how is your resolution going?  Still strong or fading?  If you don’t do resolutions, how are your intentions or goals coming along?  If you find yourself faltering, here’s your opportunity to get some insight on what could be causing you difficulty.

What you think you’re committed to doing differently could be vastly different than what you’re really committed to.  What?!?!  Say you are committed to getting more sleep, but when your new bedtime rolls around you find a reason to stay up.  It could be a great reason such as, my kids won’t go to sleep, you need to finish the dishes, or you’re really into the show you’re currently binge watching and you’ve just got to see what’s going to happen.  If you stay up rather than going to bed, then you’re not very committed to getting more sleep.

So, then, what are you committed to?  There are several possibilities.  It could be that you are committed to catering to other’s needs.  Perhaps you are committed to being busy and perpetually “doing.”  Maybe you are committed to doing what you want when you want to do it.  Or, you could be committed to feeling unwell.  You may feel entirely justified in the excuses you find to not get more sleep.  However, in this instance, you are more committed to your excuses than your resolution, goal or intention.

According to Debbie Ford, author of The Right Questions (2004), this is called an underlying commitment.  This type of commitment lives in the unconscious part of us.  It is primary and will always prevail over the other commitments you make on a conscious level.  Underlying commitments are the root cause for the inconsistency between what we say we want vs. what we actually experience.

If you take a good look at your life, you will begin to see what you are truly committed to.  Here are some common examples of underlying commitments:

-Stay safe – never take risks

-Can’t trust others – you will always be alone

-Freedom – instead of structure, life is chaos

-Comfort – you’ll drink, eat or entertain anyone that will give it to you

-Weakness – I can’t do it on my own

-Not good enough – I will sabotage myself so I can feel bad about myself

-Never letting anyone tell me what to do – even if it’s myself

-Having what you want when you want it

-Having someone else take care of you

We begin to see that the choices we make are in perfect alignment with our first commitment.  We experience an internal battle between our underlying commitments and what our heart and soul desires.  If we do not examine our primary commitments, they will always win and keep us from moving into a place of empowerment.  They keep us from the future we desire.

How do you recognize your underlying commitments?  Debbie Ford offered a practice on page 57 of her book, The Right Questions.

1.) Write down a goal or desire you have not been able to achieve.

2.) Make a list of all of the actions you have taken that are in direct opposition to this goal.

3.) Ask yourself what commitment those choices are in direct alignment with.

Often, our underlying commitments are not flattering.  Be kind to yourself!  When you originally made that commitment, it was at a time when you didn’t have the freedom of choice.  They are largely made when you were a kid, and the commitment served you for a while.  However, they begin to unravel over time.

Now you’ve outgrown that first commitment.  Recognizing it gives you the freedom to make different choices and different commitments.  You now have the ability to create a new future that is in alignment with your present time truth.

In the moments when you feel like you’re being tugged in two different directions by an underlying commitment and your soul’s desire, allow yourself to pause and ask yourself a few questions.  Following are a selection of Debbie Ford’s “The Right Questions.”

-Will this choice move me toward an inspiring future or keep me stuck in the past?

-Will this choice bring me long-term fulfillment or short term-gratification?

-Will this choice add to my life force or rob me of my energy?

-Will I use this situation as a catalyst to grow or use it to beat myself up?

-Does this choice empower me or disempower me?

-Is this an act of self-love or self-sabotage?

I invite you to be compassionate and courageous as you uncover your underlying commitments and move toward the YOU and LIFE you wish to have.


About the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

Post-Election: Be Kind-but it DOESN’T mean be nice! || Mary Coday Edwards

Post-election: Be kind – but it DOESN’T mean be nice!

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

December 13, 2016

And Santa JUST shifted me to the “naughty” side, if I wasn’t there already.

An old word, “nice” appeared in English in the 13th century. It’s derived from a French word that meant “foolish”, which in turn came from the Latin nescire, meaning “Ignorant”.  By the 17th century it had evolved to signify “timid,” “fussy,” and “precise” – a far cry from our current usage meaning kind, or polite.

Of the word, Dictionary.com says “the word is used too often and has become a cliché lacking the qualities of precision and intensity that are embodied in many of its synonyms.”

As noted in my November blog on loving kindness, on the heels of our election I attended the 2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS; Note 1), hosted by the Mind & Life Institute (Note 2).

Amishi Jha, Associate Professor at the University of Miami, closed our Saturday evening session saying, “Be kind – but that doesn’t mean be nice!”

The Director of Contemplative Neuroscience for the Mindfulness Research and Practice Initiative, her words were intended to aid us attendees in finding our way through a new political order.

BE KIND: FOCUSING ON THE OTHER, FOR THEIR GOOD

Spiritual teachers and psychotherapists often associate “nice” with being a people-pleaser, with the need to look outside oneself for certain emotional needs to be met. In other words, if I’m nice to you, you’ll validate me in ways I’m not getting from myself. You’ll make me feel important, valuable, or worthy of love. And to get what I want from you, I will even contradict my convictions.

Being kind, on the other hand, entails a deliberate doing good to others, choosing consciously. And evolves into loving kindness – again, see my November blog. Returning to its 13th century roots, nice implies acting unconsciously – I am ignorant of my motives and perhaps foolishly waiting for someone’s approval, or to get something from him/her.

Which is spot on to our seasonal usage of “nice”: If I punch Susie, Santa will leave me a lump of coal – I won’t get the cool stuff. I don’t really care about Susie’s wellbeing, but I DO care about what’s under the tree.

Defined in this manner, niceness comes with strings attached: I will please you and make you happy in order to get something out of it.

POST-ELECTION

For me, training in loving kindness enables me to move beyond the superficialities that divide our species. Mentally, when I now engage either in person or through social media with those whose values frankly leave me stunned, I visualize that deeper spiritual commonality.

For me, that visualization is of a changing form of no specific shape, an intense sky blue color with sparkles of light, in a background of midnight blue.  There I can be kind without being nice; I can extend loving kindness to them without contradicting my own values. They are fighting battles I know nothing about in that deeper place.

By the end of our interaction, they may want nothing more to do with me – they may be unfriending me! And that’s OK. My intent is to be kind to myself also in this interaction, by speaking my truth, by showing up as me.

So, be kind – but mindfully, paying attention to your motives, but without judgment.

_______

Notes & Sources:

1.) ISCS “brings together scientists, scholars, artists and contemplatives to explore distinct though overlapping fields of research and scholarship, using a multidisciplinary, integrative approach to advance our understanding of the human mind.” This symposium hosted about 1,200 attendees.

2.) The mission of the Mind & Life Institute is to alleviate suffering and promote flourishing by integrating science with contemplative practice and wisdom traditions. https://www.mindandlife.org/mission

3.) Sources include Marcia Sirota, at http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/marcia-sirota/being-too-nice_b_9592698.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

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

Holidays and Grief || Jenny St. Claire

Holidays and Grief by Jenny St. Claire

holidays

Grief is about loss.  Many only associate it with physical death, but it is about anything that feels like an ending.  Several common experiences can be a breakup, the end of health through an illness, or losing a job.  Some unexpected examples of grief can be missing how the holidays were when you were a kid, being so busy you don’t have time to take a breath or the state of national affairs, like an election. Grief can surprise us with its depth, breadth and intensity.  Unfortunately, we Americans have been taught to avoid grief, which leaves us vulnerable because we don’t know what to do with it.

 

What can you do in times like this?  FEEL IT. 

I can hear some people thinking, “Why should I feel it when it hurts so much?  Shouldn’t I just get over it and be positive?”  Too often, we try to get rid of unpleasant feelings, especially during the holidays.  We numb out with delicious desserts, alcohol, TV, movies, surfing the internet or partying.  When you can identify when you’re enjoying yourself vs. avoiding yourself, you’ll gain greater clarity about what you’re doing, and maybe even what you need.  What are your top three numbing techniques? 

 

Recently, I was feeling really grumpy and couldn’t shake it.  I fought it for three days, only growing more and more irritable.  Finally, I surrendered to it, connected with it and asked for some insight.  My heart responded by filling with sorrow and I started to cry as my dog’s face came to mind.  She passed away last year and her one-year death anniversary is coming up.  I’m grieving!  While I didn’t feel good, per se, I at least felt some relief because I finally understood what was going on with me.  I had no idea my grumpiness was covering my sadness, and it was telling me I need to mourn.

 

With my current grief, I know I will make my way through it even though it hurts right now.  If there are any of you who are not so sure you will survive the grief, I encourage you to reach out for support.  Talk to trusted friends or family, call a hotline or therapist, or go to a grief support group.  If you would like some things you can do to help yourself, read on.

 

Connecting with Your Grief

Grief can be informative and transformative.  When you honor grief by being present with it, you may be amazed by what it can offer you.

How can you connect with your grief?  Here are a few ideas:

 

  1. Breathe – 10 slow, deep breaths
  2. Journal on one of these prompts:
    • What’s heavy on my heart is…
    • What I wish I could tell you is…
    • What I miss most is…
    • If I could change something, it would be…
  3. Be in nature – go to a place that calms, moves or connects you
  4. Move your body – walk, yoga, hike, dance
  5. Listen to a song that speaks to your grief

 

Once connected with your grief, let yourself feel.  Let yourself mourn what you have lost.  Let yourself be shaken up so you can let the old go, when you’re ready. 

Allow to rise within you what you need now.  Do you need to open your heart again?  Do you need to take better care of your mind, body and spirit?  Do you need to BE more than you DO?  Do you need to create something?  Do you need to learn to play an instrument?  Do you need to change careers? 

Grief transforms us over time.  Whether we wanted to change or not, we honor ourselves when we can accept what is.  Here is one of my favorite quotes from a book called Honoring Grief by Alexandra Kennedy:

“Our grief wakes us up to life.  We learn to hear the exquisite beauty and sorrow of being fully alive, to savor the simple moments, to cherish what’s here now.  If we can hold ourselves with compassion, we can hold others with compassion.  If we can let ourselves be as we are, we can allow others to be as they are.  We can begin to embrace life as it is in this moment and trust the flow of life as it unfolds.  Then we learn to walk the earth with wonder.” (p. 134)

If you aren’t feeling the warmth, love and connection you desire during the holidays, maybe being present with your grief will carry you there.  Remember this quote and hold yourself with compassion as you’re feeling the aliveness of sorrow.  Let yourself be as you are.  Let yourself receive the love you need…especially from YOU.  Now, more than ever.

PTSD and the Election || Lora Cheadle

PTSD and the Election by Lora Cheadle

trauma

Since the election cycle began, I’ve been overwhelmed with clients urgently needing appointments – not because of their weak constitution or their inability to see both sides of an argument, but because their Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD has flared up.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Definition and Symptoms

PTSD is defined by the Mayo Clinic as a condition that’s triggered by a terrifying event – either one we experience ourselves or one that we witness, resulting in:

1) Uncontrollable Memories: Reoccurring, unwanted, highly distressing memories of the traumatic event, flashbacks, nightmares, intense dreams or severe emotional or physical reactions to stimuli.

2) Negative Thinking and Moods: Feeling negatively about self and others, the inability to experience positive emotions, feeling numb, hopeless or worthless or having little interest in activities or friends. Experiencing memory and relationship problems.

3) Changes in Emotional Reactions: Experiencing irritability, angry or aggressive outbursts or behavior, experiencing overwhelming guilt or shame, feeling on guard at all times, having trouble concentrating, relaxing or sleeping and being easily startled or frightened.

How Common is Trauma or PTSD?

Experiencing severe trauma is not unusual. According to the National Center for PTSD, 6 in 10 men and 5 in 10 women experience severe trauma in their lifetime. Seven or 8 out of every 100 people experience PTSD at some point in their lives, meaning that 8 million adults are impacted by PTSD.

How the Election Causes Anxiety

Several common trauma-inducing topics have been prevalent in this election. Bullying, sexual assault, body shaming, ageism, sexism, racism and nationalism.

Statistically speaking, most Americans have been impacted by one or more of these topics and many Americans experience some level of anxiety or stress, if not full-blown PTSD as a result of these behaviors. Repeatedly having statements broadcast on TV, spoken about by friends or posted on social media that remind us of our traumatic experience means that we are being repeatedly assaulted by that which causes us pain, anxiety and PTSD symptoms and that we are increasingly becoming more and more anxious, stressed and dysfunctional.

Hateful Post-Election Rhetoric

When others say hateful things to us, they are really expressing their feelings of grief and betrayal at their hearts, traumas and experiences not being heard, acknowledged or held with dignity and respect. They are not necessarily attacking us, they are merely begging for compassion and love. And when we say hateful things, we are asking for the same thing from them.

When we share our hearts and our traumas with the world, we expect the world to listen and to validate our story. When others fail to validate us and our pain and instead support that which has caused us pain, we become threatened. We no longer feel safe, we feel that our pain doesn’t matter, that we have not been heard and that we are worthless. We feel betrayed and our PTSD-like symptoms skyrocket. Once again we are placed in the position of having to fight for our dignity and self-worth, and because we are survivors, we fight hard.

Hearing political comments that remind us of our trauma, that show to us that we have not been heard and that others do not care about us forces us to relive the worst moment of our worst day over and over again. It forces us right back int o fight-or-flight mode, and we attack viciously, which does not allow us to heal. All we need in to heal is to be heard. All we need is a little compassion.

The Anxiety Induced by the Election

This election reminded me of one of my worst fears; that being good and kind and truthful and honest doesn’t pay off and that fear, threats and coercion do, and that no matter how hard I tried to do good, I’d still lose because I am unworthy.

Watching and listening to this election, I was reminded of the big, strong, popular high school bullies who assaulted me and threatened to kill me if I didn’t give him what he wanted. I am reminded of my classmates who didn’t believe me and of the principal who told my parents that we better not get a restraining order against him because he would lose his scholarship and I wouldn’t want to be responsible for ruining his life.

When I hear people say that they support Trump, it provokes my anxiety. I am reminded of all of the fears and feelings I experienced in my traumatic situation. I feel worthless and my pain is invalidated. I hear that bullies who use fear and threats matter more than someone who tries to do good and I get afraid that I will be hurt. It doesn’t matter if it’s rational or not, it’s simply what comes out of the subconscious mind when I am provoked.

Rage is Neutralized by Compassion

This is why there’s so much rage this election. It’s not about economic plans or the military or the economy. It’s about the majority of us who have experienced trauma and who are being repeatedly traumatized by what’s being said and done around us that reminds us of our worst day.

It’s about our hearts and our stories and our belief that others may not think we deserve to exist.

For the next four years, when we see hate, let’s stop and remember our worst day. Let’s remember how it felt when somebody we trusted poured salt in our wound and let us recognize when we inadvertently pour salt in somebody else’s wound too. It’s not about right or wrong, it’s about listening and allowing each other to heal.

Let’s not question the validity of the wound or explain why we didn’t mean for the salt to hurt the wound or why salt doesn’t hurt our own wounds. Let’s just listen, acknowledge the pain and hold some space so healing can occur.

Let’s be kind. Let’s have compassion and let’s choose to hold every hurting heart that we come across. Holding hearts and having compassion don’t mean we have to agree with anyone. It only means that we gently say, “Yes, I understand, I’m wounded too and I understand that you are experiencing pain.” That’s it. That’s all it takes in order for us to all heal each other together.


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!

Loving Kindness || Mary Coday Edwards

Lovingkindness: It doesn’t mean approval of someone’s actions!

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

November 22, 2016

oving-kindness

November 9 to the 13 found me attending the 2016 International Symposium for Contemplative Studies (ISCS; Note 1), hosted by the Mind & Life Institute in San Diego – especially a gift coming on the heels of our pre- and post-election events.

And the holidays are upon us. And there’s Uncle Joe sitting across the table from you, epitomizing everything you disagree with. And you’re committed to bringing about more good in the world vs. more suffering.

Perhaps these conference ruminations will help you stay centered on your core values, as they helped me.

Richard J. Davidson, University of Wisconsin, & Matthieu Ricard, Shechen Monastery, ISCS 2016 Opening Keynote Speakers. Used by permission from Mind & Life Institute

Richard J. Davidson, University of Wisconsin, & Matthieu Ricard, Shechen Monastery, ISCS 2016
Opening Keynote Speakers. Used by permission from Mind & Life Institute

YES – WE CAN TRAIN IN COMPASSION

In his session Sunday morning titled, “Sustainable Compassion Training – Extending-care Mode of Practice,” Boston College Associate Professor John Makransky guided us in a contemplative session designed to enable us to extend loving care to others as an extension of the loving care in which we are held. This process teaches us how to “drop the level of reactivity” into a habit of compassion by finding a field of love and compassion from and in which we are all held (see Note 2 for additional resources).

 

Dr. Makransky led us through the following steps:

1.) Begin with a simple two-to-three minute breathing exercise, paying attention to your breath as you inhale and exhale.

2.) Next, try to recall one simple, loving caring moment: someone laughing with you, rooting for you – in your childhood or a very recent encounter – a memory that makes you happy when you recall it.

3.) Settle on that one such moment – recall the place, how it felt.

4.) Imagine that person is coming to you right now – not a distant memory, but be in that moment now, letting that person commune with you in your deep worth, taking joy in you, wishing you well – relaxing into that felt sense of that moment – beyond superficialities, letting those loving qualities seep into your whole being.

5.) Receive that loving energy into your whole body, into every cell, into your whole heart and mind, every layer of feeling and emotion, every part of you loved; beyond all superficial thoughts and impressions of yourself.

6.) Receive that loving energy so deeply that it can feel natural to let it come through you to those nearby and around you, like a natural impulse. It’s as if your caring figure has been communing with you, not on a superficial level, but deeply, validating your worth and dignity.

7.) Always still receiving, but now let it extend as if through a window pane, from your depths to others, to their dignity, beyond all limiting thoughts and impressions, deeply wishing them well.

8.) In this way, begin to rely on this loving energy which senses more than just limiting impressions, and wishing them DEEPLY well. Learn to trust that power or love more than limiting impressions, to rely on that.

9.) By communing and wishing well in this way, we learn to see others as we are seen, to love others as we are loved, to know others as we are known.

10.) Let this loving energy infuse your whole being – let it relax your heart and mind, let heart and mind fall open, by letting everything be in its natural openness.

I discovered that staying with the memory I evoked in Step 2 and continuing with that imagery did enable me to get beyond superficialities.

Of course, my Uncle Joe wasn’t sitting across from me.

LOVING KINDNESS DOES NOT MEAN APPROVAL

Lovingkindness, compassion, and empathy: words bandied about such that we lose their meanings. I will return to these words in next month’s blog, but some clarity is needed now.

Conference speaker and meditation author and teacher Sharon Salzberg said that lovingkindness derived from the ancient word “metta” and denoted “a heart space of inclusion.”

While it includes “a deep acknowledgement of connection [with someone], it doesn’t mean you like them or approve of them; it doesn’t demand action; it doesn’t mean being sweet, with only a sugary ‘yes’” to that which contradicts who we are.

“Compassion,” she continued, “rests on the shared understanding that we are all quite vulnerable. In life there is nothing we can hold on to” as permanent, all is always changing.

The idea behind these exercises is that I can learn to live with that paradox, of simultaneously being with someone whose actions I don’t approve of but yet extending compassion.  I can gaze upon my Uncle Joe and look deeper into his being, where I find that vulnerability of shared humanity. I may have to leave the table or gently challenge his ideas. All of this creates stress within me, and that’s when I pause, breathe, and ask my higher self what to do next so I don’t contradict who I am.

Much easier said than done, but it is a skill I can practice – for the good of myself and for the good of this cosmic space we dwell in.

Mindfulness is paying attention to your present moment nonjudgmentally, so if you felt an energy shift within you while reading Dr. Makransky’s contemplation exercise, I suggest you print it out and make it part of your daily routine.

_______

Notes:

1.) ISCS “brings together scientists, scholars, artists and contemplatives to explore distinct though overlapping fields of research and scholarship, using a multidisciplinary, integrative approach to advance our understanding of the human mind.” This San Diego symposium hosted about 1,200 attendees.

2.) Additional resources: Foundation for Active Compassion, Transformational Practices for a Better World; http://foundationforactivecompassion.org/; and Courage of Care Coalition; http://courageofcare.org/.

________

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:

Why Kindness Matters || Dorothy Wallis

Whatever happened to Kindness, Caring and Respect?  Why Kindness Matters

By Dorothy Wallis

kindness

Have you noticed a change in mainstream cultural values regarding the way people treat others?  You may wonder what happened to kindness, caring and respect?  The election campaign has highlighted a growing acceptance of rudeness and disrespectful behavior toward others as being okay.  People are experiencing increasing stress and anxiety as a result.  Have we have forgotten the value of being nice?

 

Self-absorbed 
People seem to be more impatient.  Rushing ahead whether at work, in traffic, or at the grocery store is often the main goal with disregard for one’s fellow companions.  Waiting in line or for any service is seen as an annoyance.  On the highway, people drive as if there is always an emergency.  Cutting in line, swerving between cars, not paying attention when someone is talking, and walking down the street talking loudly on a cell phone glued to one’s ear is actually rude.

Self-Serving
I am all for the freedom of self-expression and following your inner guidance, yet it seems we have misconstrued the authentic expression of our True Self with the high jacked notion that self expression means anything goes and that it is not only acceptable but admirable.  Somehow, we have come to believe that doing whatever serves us in the moment no matter what affect it has on others is a right with an attitude of “I can say anything I want, behave anyway I want, and do whatever I want and you need to accept me this way.”  This is often accompanied by, “If you don’t like it…it’s not that I need to change…you need to work on your issues.”  Yikes…doesn’t that feel yucky?

This entitled self-serving attitude is dismissive and wreaks havoc on relationships and is certainly not a way to win friends or influence people.  It is easy to see that projecting blame, anger and rage onto others does not create friendship nor does it create harmony.  It is also easy to fall into a lack of awareness of others and how your behavior or inattention affects them.  You may brush off being impolite, not saying please or thank-you as inconsequential.  Yet actions such as inconsiderateness, lack of empathy, disrespect, rudeness, insulting and offensive remarks, belittling, gossiping, patronizing, taking advantage of or intimidating people are behaviors that often inflict irreparable harm to others and poison relationships.

Why are we Mean? 
Fear 
In an attempt to protect yourself, your beliefs or to feel safe you may disregard or mistreat others in order to distance yourself from those different than you.  You may retreat into withdrawing your attention or go along with the ego’s belief that the best defense is to be offensive.  Intolerance of other’s views, opinions, religion, way of life, and taking advantage of their vulnerabilities are indicators that you are reacting from a place of fear.

Low Self-Esteem 
A misguided perception is the idea that being rude, demeaning others, retaliating or bullying means you are stronger or better than another.  It is actually a sign of weakness and low regard for oneself.  The level of disrespect you have for others reflects the level of disrespect you have for yourself.  When you diminish others, you diminish yourself.  The way to bolster your self-esteem is through appreciation and consideration of others and taking the moral high ground, which fills you with joyful inner regard and respect.

Going along with the Crowd
The need to belong is strong.  Everyone needs connection and relationships.  Human interaction is required to ensure survival and is necessary to activate brain development.  Socialization is how you learn.  So why would you engage in behaviors that push people away?  Your very need to belong is one reason you may adopt crude behavior and go against what you feel is morally right in order to be accepted in a group.

The influence of the community you live in, the people you work with, your family of origin and your social groups are all powerful forces.  Your actions mirror what you see others do.  As a social creature you tend to adjust your values to the “norm.”  So, what is the current “norm?” Have you noticed more tolerance for bad manners and impolite behavior?  Is it really okay to text at the dinner table, to not listen when someone is talking to you, to gossip, interrupt, disrespect or embarrass someone?  These actions may not seem to have much consequence in the moment yet they create distance and resentment in those at the receiving end of your behavior.  Dis-respecting, dis-approving, dis-empowering, dis-missing, dis-daining, dis-regarding, dis-engaging, dis-couraging, dis-paraging, dis-tancing, dis-crediting, and dis-heartening actions dis-solve connection.

 

When you “Dis” someone, you Breed Contempt and you Lose Relationship

 

You not only lose relationship with others, you separate yourself from your true essence.  Following what the crowd does can be a dangerous mindset.  What seems like harmless misconduct is the seed, which grows into abuse, aggression, hatred, cruelty and violence.  Not only do these behaviors undermine others, they are toxic to the person dispensing them.  Self-loathing, loss of respect, loss of identity, loneliness, lack of love and separation from oneself is often the result.

 

“A dying culture invariably exhibits personal rudeness. Bad manners, lack of consideration for others in minor matters, a loss of politeness, of gentle manners, is more significant than is a riot.”
~ Robert A. Heinlein

 

Do you want to experience happiness and make a difference in the world?  Be Kind
Everyone wants to find meaning, to make his or her life matter.  Harmony and peace propagate from everyday actions of caring.  If you genuinely want self-respect, love and connection in your life, kindness is the cure.  Kindness is consideration and concern for others.  It is the act of spontaneous generous goodwill toward your fellow humans and brethren, and toward all of nature’s creatures, including you.  Benevolence comes from the heart.
Remember the popularity of Random Acts of Kindness?  Doing small deeds and acts of kindness is powerful; they promote a sense of deep well-being inside of you as well as others.  The way to inner peace and happiness is through compassionate action.  Generously give praise, use kind words, and acknowledge people.  Be considerate of others beliefs, viewpoints, and differences.  Be present, be patient and listen with curiosity.  Drop the “Dis” and engage, approve, regard, empower and give credit to others.  Cast off your pride and learn about good manners and what behaviors promote great relationships.  You will experience more joy.  Kindness Matters!

Cultivating Gratitude || Bridget Blasius

Cultivating Gratitude

By Bridget Blasius

Retrieved from People House Newsletter

gratitude

As we enter the harvest season, we find ourselves surrounded by reminders to be grateful for the blessings we have in life.  While many of us hold gratitude as an ideal, the pressure of Holiday preparations can leave us feeling overwhelmed.  This can make it difficult to actually enjoy our celebrations.  Sometimes, it seems like the autumn holidays can speed by before we know it.  When we don’t take time to pause, reflect and breathe, we can easily forget what it is that we are supposed to be celebrating!

Some may be wondering how they can pause when there is so much to do.   This is totally understandable.   We are often taught that taking time for self-care is selfish or irresponsible.  This is far from being the case.  When we take care of ourselves, we develop more resiliency to be present for those we love.

Autumn is a season full of rich, sensual pleasures.  How much do we take them in?  To cultivate grateful presence, start by taking a contemplative walk.  Do it slowly.  Notice the blessings offered by nature in the moment.  Feel the crisp winds, and notice the brilliant colors.  Smell the rich earth, as the leaves decay and provide compost for next year’s growth.  Nature is in a constant process of renewal, and so are we.  Every breath is an opportunity to notice the beauty around us.

When was the last time you took home a brilliantly colored leaf, and pressed it in a book?  Small natural objects can provide reminders to stop and reflect.  Consider incorporating leaves into a collage or other form of artwork.  Try doing this with children.  Enjoy their laughter and innocence.  Teach them to never lose sight of this.

Offer service to those around you, but do it joyfully.  If you notice yourself feeling fatigued or anxious, give yourself a break.  Be sure to offer appreciation to yourself for the good work you may be  doing.  It is easier to appreciate others when you realize that you, too, are worthy of love.

Tell yourself this:  It is OK just to be.  Sometimes, we need to do absolutely nothing.  Try sitting on the porch with a warm blanket and a cup of hot tea.  Take a nice, long bath.  As you feel the warm water, take the opportunity to be grateful for your indoor plumbing.  There are so many things that we take for granted.  We may worry that things will not turn out the way we want, in life, yet there are so many things about our lives that are right.  Let us not lose sight of this.

At the same time, let us not dismiss any sufferings we have endured.  Let us offer gratitude to ourselves for our own strength, in getting through them, and gratitude for our loved ones who have supported us along the way.   Send out the intention that all who are suffering may have the same support.  As you do this, you may notice a greater openness, warmth and generosity within yourself.

This is the very soul of autumn, the spirit that inspires our holiday celebrations, which create the memories that keep us warm through the months ahead.  Let us light candles and welcome that spirit into our homes, as we welcome our relatives and friends.  When we truly cultivate this awareness, it ceases to matter whether our pumpkin pies are perfect.  We stop caring whether our houses are totally clean.  Perfection is not what people will remember, about our holiday gatherings.  They will remember love and laughter, which we can only cultivate through presence.  So, let’s take time to be present with ourselves, so that we can be present for those who matter most.

The Dangers of Labels and Stereotypes in Politics – and in Life || Lora Cheadle

The Dangers of Labels and Stereotypes in Politics- and in Life

By Lora Cheadle, PH Blog Contributor

label

Why do we Label Others?

Have you ever judged a book by its cover? Literally, have you ever picked up a magazine at the check-out counter based on the cover photo and headlines? Lose 10 Pounds in 10 Days! Throw a Halloween Party that will Leave Everyone Cackling with Delight! How many times were the articles as amazing as the headlines promised they would be?

Headlines are labels – they are quick, convenient and are designed to grab attention and trigger action. Buy Now! Limited Quantities! Don’t Delay! Whether we label merchandise, groups or individuals, labels and stereotypes serve the same function; the ability to quickly sort information without a lot (or any) conscious thought or critical analysis.

Effects of Labeling People

Police, fire, medical and military personnel all wear uniforms so we can quickly identity the purpose they serve. In dangerous or life threatening situations it is imperative to have the ability to move quickly without having to think and analyze multiple pieces of information.

Imagine a catastrophic situation where none of the emergency personnel are dressed in uniform, and how confusing it would be not knowing who served what function and who to listen to.

On a societal level it’s good to know and honor some labels and stereotypes. Emergency personnel are good people who help us emergencies and everyone collectively defers to their authority, ensuring safety for all. Which is exactly why it’s against the law to impersonate certain people, like police officers, and why it’s so devastating when there is an abuse of power by someone in a trusted position.

What are the Consequences of Labeling People in our Everyday Life?

Being knee-deep into the election season, let’s look at the labels and stereotypes around the two major political parties.

Without the labels of Republican and Democrat, politics would take a lot of work to understand. First, we would have to have a working knowledge of each party’s platform. Next, we would have to watch each politician and see how they voted on issues and what positions they advocated. Lastly, we’d have to analyze which party their vote or position aligned with. Then we would have to keep score of each vote or position and see how often each politician went which direction.

Because this process is too time consuming to be practical, we slap on labels and call it good. If a candidate is labeled as Republican or Democrat we falsely assume that they take certain positions on certain issues, regardless if they do or not.

Quite frankly, nobody out there has a true working knowledge of both of the parties’ platforms. The current Republican platform is 35,467 words and the current Democratic platform is 26,058 words, and these platforms change at each convention.

Even if our politicians did know both platforms inside and out, it would still be impossible for them to act in accordance with that platform 100% of the time, and since many bills and proposals are bipartisan and complex, it would be difficult to analyze which percentage of their vote was in line with which sections of which platform.

The Negative Effects of Stereotyping and Labelling

This means that basically, our political labels are useless and misleading. Since nobody has a strong working knowledge of both platforms and the dedication to analyze every politician’s every move and then apply the facts the platform, we can’t determine which politician acts in accordance with which party.

Here’s a fun exercise to try. Whichever party you identify with, pretend that the labels on the candidates are the opposite of what they are. Hillary is a Republican and Trump is a Democrat. You don’t actually have to download and study your own party’s platform (although I guarantee you will be totally shocked and that you will learn a lot) but instead, look at the ways you would favor that candidate based on nothing but their label. Be honest. Your perceptions and rhetoric would change.

Can you see the ways that you would support Hillary if she wore the label of Republican? Can you see how you would support Trump if he wore the label of Democrat? Don’t pretend that nothing would change, because it would. You would give them the benefit of the doubt and find more redeeming or excusable qualities simply because of their label.

And that, is the danger of labels and stereotypes.

___________________________________________________________________

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!

I have a brand-spanking-new website! Please check it out at www.pyramidfusion.com when you have a moment!

Creating the New Between Pain and Suffering || Mary Coday Edwards

Creating the New Between Pain & Suffering.

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

October 24, 2016

pain

This is by no means a complete treatise on pain and suffering – just three suggestions on how to work with it.

Creating the new through pain and suffering includes the following steps:

  1. Recognizing we’re in pain, we pay attention to what our bodies are telling us, whether it’s physical, emotional, or psychological pain.
  2. Sitting with it mindfully, nonjudgmentally and with compassion welcoming it as our teacher (1);
  3. Breathing into the pain, asking our intuition, our higher self, what we can do next.

Now, of pain Dan Mager says (emphasis mine): “Physical pain has distinct biological and psychological components that represent stimulus and response. The biology of pain is the signal transmitted through the central nervous system that ‘something is wrong.’ The psychology of pain is the interpretation or meaning we give to that pain signal—the internal self-talk and beliefs about it which then drive our emotional reactions” (2).

“When we resist change, it’s called suffering ….” Buddhist Nun Pema Chödrön.

As an example: Recently I hurt the tip of my index finger on my right hand – an appendage of significance, as I am right-handed.

How I did so remained a mystery. Thinking it might be an in-grown finger nail, I tried minor surgery on it – exacerbating the pain a millionth-fold. Excruciating, throbbing pain now kept me awake at night.

Since it wouldn’t bend due to its swollenness, I unconsciously held the pained finger straight out.

Not a good idea; our physical world is designed for bendable digits. Plugging a cord into an outlet meant I rammed my finger into the wall – several times as a matter of fact. And into drawer fronts, doors, and the steering wheel, leaving me in tears.

I knew I was in pain, and all I wanted was for it to GO AWAY.  

I was resisting change, and my unconscious adaptation strategy of holding my finger straight out was not working.

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl.

Of the biblical prodigal son who was competing with the pigs for food scraps, scriptures say “he came to his senses” (Luke 15:17).

I too, came to mine, making this pain conscious, moving from impatience with myself to gentleness and compassion. “What can I do differently?” I asked myself – finally.

“Live in the now.” 

I was operating unconsciously, going about my day ramming my finger into non-movable surfaces. But the now, this moment, is all we ever have. The past is gone, the future is yet to be – this is all we’ve got.

Also, the now is sacred; it’s where we experience divinity. I was rushing through what I declared mundane, to move on to what I believed was “important” and hence missing the divine moment by moment.

I asked if there was anything else.

“Stop using your right hand, use your left.”

OK, that’s like a mini death – a death to my standard mode of operation. Using my left hand meant I approached life slower, more deliberate and measured – a dying to a life driven by efficiency.

But creative suffering usually includes an element of dying – and then a rebirth.

Having spent about a decade in John of the Cross’s Dark Night of the Soul, I was familiar with the concept – not mastered it, of course, how does one get used to a continual dying to what’s so familiar? And in a dark night experience, what dies is a worldview with its treasured beliefs, attitudes, and values.

And so I slowed down, using my left hand, shifting from frustration with myself to compassion. I felt a different part of my brain light up, a different energy was released.

Suffering occurs when your ideas about how things ought to be don’t match how they really are.” Author Brad Warner 

Summarizing my process:

– I became aware of my pain, my resultant suffering, and that the status quo wasn’t working anymore.

– Instead of just living in my reptilian brain of fight or flight, I brought this into consciousness, asking my higher self what I could do.

– I experienced a death and rebirth in my daily routine:

+ it increased my mindfulness, as I was forced to pay closer attention to each moment – my now – that’s all I have, this moment, and the next, and the next.

+ in the process, I was forced to slow down in the doings, my routine, of everyday life. Again, it changed my focus to my now, recognizing the sacred.

+ doing something with the opposite hand normally used can be psychologically beneficial as well as artistic, as it engages a part of the brain not commonly exercised.

Living consciously is at the heart of spirituality. Through it we learn to take responsibility for our actions and for our own happiness, without relying on outside influences. Yes, my finger hurt. But I didn’t have to wait for it to get better before I could experience joy. After all, there’s ALWAYS something or someone out there who can and will create havoc in our lives.

“Paroxysms of pain and twinges of desire leach from universal sources. All human suffering buttons itself to the pang of wanting.” Kilroy J. OldsterDead Toad Scrolls

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Notes & Sources:

  1. Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, calls this practice mindfulness and says it is “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.”
  2. Mager, Dan, MSW. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/some-assembly-required/201401/pain-is-inevitable-suffering-is-optional
  3. Chödrön, Pema. Living Beautifully: with Uncertainty and Change. 2013. Shambhala.
  4. Steele, John W., PhD. https://peoplehouse.org/services/articles/chronic-pain-as-path/

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

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

Getting to Know Your “Stand Up” Guardian, Anger || Dorothy Wallis

Getting to Know Your “Stand Up” Guardian, Anger

By Dorothy Wallis

anger

I have never been comfortable with anger.  It is disquieting, to say the least.  I prefer smooth, harmonious relationships, with no conflict; where everyone gets along and is accepting, even when they don’t agree.  Anger disrupts my inner peace.  It is a brash, bold, incorrigible bully with such power and intensity that it cannot be ignored. 

 

When harsh words, criticism, or overt anger is directed at me, it feels like a hot behemoth of fire blasting and scorching me with blistering speed…knocking me flat.  I am speechless and bewildered.  My thoughts disintegrate and vaporize residue from the attack of condemnation.  The result of my flattened affect is a look of stunned perplexity.  This has often caused others to ignite even more of their vitriol in my direction.  Not a good outcome.  Once in awhile, I am awake and safe enough for my defensive fight response to zing back in crass disagreement.  As you can imagine, this only heightens anger and now we are all engulfed in a swirling firestorm.

Anger takes its time to flare up from inside of me.  It smolders and burns like Hawaiian pahoehoe lava, a slowly moving flow submerged under the surface.  It twists my stomach, turns and aches as my skin heats up.  I notice the burning in my chest and the movement up into my throat.  My breath becomes hot.  Like a bull ready to charge, my nostrils flare, my eyes becomes focused and intense, and fiery energy fills my body.  Even though my body is prepared for action, my first instinct is to try to shut it down.  It takes time for me to recognize that my silence, avoidance and distancing are a sign of anger.  It may be the next day, before I realize what I wanted to speak in the moment of a confrontation.  

I had learned to control anger by suppressing it.  As a result the churning in my stomach would turn into pain, nausea and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.  At one point in my life, I kept a bottle of Mylanta on my desk at work and would regularly swallow large gulps of it to get through the day. 

It has been a lengthy, compelling journey of getting to know this formidable energy that can so suddenly dominate my being.  What I have learned is that anger demands attention and some kind of response.  It is asking for something to change.  It wants immediate action.  Stifling or quelling anger never works.  It dislikes being controlled and patronized.  This goes for the anger erupting inside of you as well as what comes at you from others.  People have attempted to contain and trap their anger for centuries, but it still lives inside. 

Held anger seethes and foments into resentment, contempt, rage and even depression. 

Projecting anger explosively outward isn’t any better.  Besides destroying relationships, it also diminishes your immune system.  It heightens the production of adrenaline, noradrenaline, and testosterone, increasing your blood pressure, risk of heart disease and heart attacks if you habitually express your anger in this way.  Both suppression and projection of anger manifest in your body with detrimental health issues ranging from insomnia, depression, headaches, stomach issues, ulcers, arthritis and skin problems to high blood pressure, strokes and heart attacks.

You have a “Stand Up Guardian” in Anger

It seems this culprit causes nothing but problems.  So why do we have this emotion of anger?  Think about when it arises.  It is present, along with fear, when you are in danger and need to protect yourself.  Anger speaks loudest when you have been violated.  It arises when your values have been confronted or abused.  Anger defends your ethics and morality.  If by your standards and perspective you are treated unfairly, exploited, or your self-respect and esteem have been injured, anger will come forth to defend your honor.  Anger is the “Stand-Up Righteous Guardian” that validates your beliefs and vindicates your self-worth.  It keeps you from passively giving up and being helpless.  Anger offers an internal validation that you and your values are worthy of upholding.  It nurtures an inner sense of strength to hold and preserve your dignity increasing your responsiveness and self-empowerment.  It can bring you out of grief, despair and depression.  Its forceful energy creates heat and expansive movement throughout every cell of your body stimulating your verve for life.  You may be inspired to take action to right injustices or to make a healthy change in your life.   

What are your expectations, beliefs, values, desires, needs, wants, and what attracts you?  Anger will help you find out.  If something doesn’t turn out how you think it should or when you want something and cannot obtain it, what happens?  Anger will shout, “I lost the game because they cheated; my partner betrayed me; that reckless#### driver is going to cause an accident; she took the last piece of pie and I wanted it; I hate waiting in line.” Anger can be very self-serving and self-protective of resources and desires.  It can show you when you are being self-righteous and conversely when you are magnanimously protecting and serving others.  With inner reflection it will show you what deserves to be upheld. 

Getting to Know You, Getting to Know all about You

Figuring out how it shows up for you is part of the task of meeting and getting to know anger.  For some, its appearance is so bold and disruptive that there is no doubt that anger has surfaced.  For others, the slow burn of apathy, criticism and bitter cynicism can disguise its signature bluster.  It is good to know your own temperament.  How often do you recognize yourself experiencing anger?  If you yell, scream, shout, and rage, you know anger is there.  Anger is also present when you are irritated, annoyed, resentful, bitter, insulting, cross, contemptuous or offensive. 

What is your Current Relationship with Anger? 

Do you find it beneficial, are you unaware of it, or is it causing you or others harm?  Is it affecting your relationships? 

Your Anger Style

How do you respond when anger is present?  Do you generally suppress or project?  Do you react quickly or slowly?  Are you more passive or aggressive?  Are you assertive and reasonable?  The passive aggressive and purely aggressive reactions may help you in the short term, yet in the long run these are always destructive to healthy relationship. Your anger style is a learned response.  No matter how strong the habit you have developed, it is not fixed in stone.  You have the power of choice.  

Knowing your prevalent style enhances your ability to choose a healthier response that is beneficial for you and others. 

Passive Aggressive:

Silencing, withdrawing, being cold, manipulating, being contemptuous or resentful, having righteous indignation, holding a grudge, gossiping, being mean, taking revenge 

Aggressive:

Nagging, relentless verbal expression, obnoxiousness, insulting, intimidating, baiting, bullying, controlling, yelling, screaming, fighting, raging, hitting and causing physical harm

What to do When Anger Surfaces; Slowing down the Reaction

Breathe…always…breathe:  This allows your reasoning mind to come on board and begin to calm the intensity of the anger. 

Be Aware of the Physical Sensations

Notice the actual physical sensations in your body and where the anger originates.  Where is it located in your body? Does it move? What is the temperature?  Scan your body.  What do you sense in your stomach, your chest, your throat, your arms, you’re your head?  Do your muscles tense?  Does your face flush or teeth grind?  Are you more alert?  Does your energy expand or contract or is there a mixture with some parts of you tightening or contracting and some of the energy expanding?  Do you have an urge to confront, attack or fight? 

Be Aware of your Impulse to React

This is the moment of choice.  Pushing down anger by ignoring it or acting out anger has its consequences.  Be aware of your first impulse and choose a better response.

What is Anger Upholding?

Before responding consider what anger is defending, endorsing, supporting or vindicating.  What is motivating the anger?

Value: Is this a moral or ethical value that is important to you?  Is there an injustice occurring?  Have you been violated or abused?  What is at stake if you do or do not uphold this value?

Need: Is my need necessary for survival?  Is it giving me the energy to move out of sadness, grief, depression or a dangerous situation?  Perhaps it is inspiring you take on a challenge.

Self Esteem & Identity: When you are judged or when you judge yourself as being unacceptable, anger offers you the impetus to value and esteem yourself.  There are healthy ways to stand up for yourself.  Try to refrain from criticizing, taking revenge or attacking. 

Wants and Desires: Is my desire in line with my highest good?  Does it respect the needs, values and desires of others?  Am I being self-serving or in service to all of life?

Expectations: Do I experience anger when I do not meet an expectation of myself?  Do I react with resentment when I believe others have failed to do or act in the way I expected?  Am I angry if I do not get my way?  Can I accept and forgive when expectations are not met?

Self Righteousness: Anger is used to uphold a false sense of being better than others.  False pride feels empowering but it actually diminishes your authentic self worth.  Do I believe I am ‘the one’ with the correct knowledge and rules or that my values are the only right ones without considering others viewpoints, ethics or values? 

Past Hurt and Guilt:  Anger can be triggered when an unresolved painful situation or trauma from the past is similar to something happening in the present.  Anger attempts to bring forth resolution for our past hurts and failures.  Am I locked in the past and taking my stored fury out on the present circumstance?

 

Rather than backing away from anger, I have found that it can be a resource pointing me in the direction of what is truly ailing me.  Finding resolution occurs when there is deep reflection on the source, the consequences of reacting, and identifying what is truly important.  Conflict is still not my favorite cup of tea, and anger often is contentious, but my comfort level has increased.  Knowing that I primarily contain my anger has helped me to find it, welcome it and look it in the eye.  An honest assessment of what is motivating the underlying root of anger has enabled me to discern how to respond in ways that sustain communication and relationships.  

 

Before changing your dynamic of anger with others, you must first develop a relationship with anger realizing it is the Guardian of your most cherished values.  It is a helpful companion that offers a moral compass.  When you use this energy to inquire into the true source of what it is upholding, you can resolve much of the inner pain.  Your “Stand Up” Guardian will give you the emotional courage and strength to uphold your life, and to strengthen values and esteem, without destructive consequences.

____________________________________________________________________

Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice as an Individual and Couples Psychotherapist for over five years as well as an International Spiritual Teacher.  At the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years, she is 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. 

She is 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.  

Intuitive Self-Care and Separating the Needs of the Body, Mind and Spirit || Lora Cheadle

Intuitive Self-Care and Separating the Needs of the Body, Mind, and Spirit

By Lora Cheadle

self-care

 

Taking good care of ourselves requires more than just an occasional mani-pedi or treating ourselves to new shoes, a massage or a girl’s night out.

Taking good care of ourselves requires us to listen to ourselves and to really hear what our bodies, our minds and our spirits are asking for on a separate and intuitive level. When we practice intuitive self-care and take care of our bodies, minds and spirits separately, we become a happier and healthier whole. There’s a lot of focus out there on integrating the body, the mind and the spirit, and while it’s true that we function best as fully integrated beings, in order to truly integrate all facets of our beings we need to begin by separating the three components of the self and learn to intuitively listen and respond to what each part needs.

     The body itself is an organism. All organisms are biologically hard-wired to preserve themselves. Our bodies have a multitude of self-preserving reflexes, instincts and behaviors, and it’s completely natural and desirable for the body to preserve and protect itself. Bodies can experience cravings when they are running low on various minerals, such as iron or other nutrients. Pica is the term given to pregnant women who are deficient in certain minerals and crave things such as mud, dirt, plaster, ashes or who have the compulsive need to lick the walls. Physical cravings help us eat the kind of foods that our bodies requires to sustain themselves. On the flip side, when we eat something toxic, our bodies react by vomiting and ridding themselves of the offending substance.

     Our bodies also know how much and of what kind of food they can digest at a time. If we eat something that is difficult to digest, our bodies may tell us to stop by sending us an “I’m full” signal, but if we eat foods that are easy to digest, we may not feel full as quickly. Similarly, depending on our activity, hormonal, immune and stress levels, there will be times when we are more or less hungry. The intuitive wisdom is there; it’s just that we lose touch with it. As children we may be told to “clean our plate,” or that we “don’t have to like it, we just have to eat it,” which teaches us to override our bodies intuitive wisdom. As adults, making decisions for ourselves for the first time, we waltz into life feeling like naughty little children whose parents are out of town. We make one bad choice after another simply because we can, and we are rarely encouraged to get back in touch with our intuitive wisdom.

Add in the demands of a modern life with careers and families, where we are relegated to eating on an arbitrary schedule that had nothing to do with the needs of our body, and our body’s intuitive wisdom is quieted and ignored.

     Our minds and our spirits have the same kind of intuitive wisdom that our bodies do, telling us exactly what they require in order to flourish. When we listen to and respond to these three, distinct voices, all parts or us remain healthy and fulfilled, but when we ignore our own intuitive self-care wisdom, illness, injury, depression and other problems manifest.

     When we are not practiced at separating the needs of the body with the needs of the mind or the spirit, we misinterpret the signals we receive and we end up feeding the body what the mind and the spirit are asking for. The mind, just like the body, is a self-preserving organism that craves what it needs. Minds need stimulation, comfort, love, excitement, growth and development. When faced with a difficult or a sad time, the mind might crave sweetness, comfort and love. Instead of reaching out to people or situations that provide the mind with sweetness, comfort or love, we misinterpret these signals and we attempt to feed the body what the mind is asking for. We ingest sweetness, comfort and love in the form of mac and cheese and ice cream. We don’t physically need mac and cheese or ice cream, what we need is a good dose of mothering and a time-out from adult responsibilities, but because we aren’t hearing and responding to that which our mind truly need, we attempt to fill ourselves up with as much sweetness, comfort and love as we can by ingesting mac and cheese (a symbol of comfort and love) followed by ice cream (sweetness personified).

     Do we need a bit more spice or bite in our otherwise dull lives? We may crave spicy foods, salt and crunch. Feeling stifled at work, a lack of stimulation being home with toddlers or craving a project to sink our teeth into? When we don’t listen and respond to what our minds and spirits are telling us they need, we eventually start eating whatever it is our minds and spirits desire! Are we craving those gooey cinnamon rolls because we have just run a marathon, our muscles no longer have any glycogen stores and we are on the verge of passing out, or are we craving them because we are unfulfilled in our current position at work and we want something juicy and gooey to sink our mind into? Are those licorice sticks giving us something to chew on because our mind has something to process that we are ignoring and refusing to process?

     Our bodies, minds and spirits are filled with intuitive, self-care wisdom and when we are connected enough to listen and respond to what they tell us they need, will are happy and healthy on every level.

But if we don’t listen, or if we misinterpret the signals, we set ourselves up for subpar health and happiness. This is intuitive self-care, and this is the ultimate goal. Separate the needs of the body from the needs of the mind and the needs of the spirit. Stay present in every moment and learn to listen and respond to the needs of the body, the mind and the spirit, remembering of course, that there’s always room for a mani-pedi, new shoes or a nice massage

self-care-image


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! See more on her website.

Shame || Mary Coday Edwards

Blog 9

Shame: What’s it all about?

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards.

shame

Shame. Common to the human experience, we’ve all experienced it, at times so excruciatingly painful that we seek desperately a hole to fall into, the proverbial wish for the ground to open up beneath our feet in order that we can hide our shame, or what we are ashamed of.

Shame resilience depends on being able to move through shame experiences with self-compassion (after all, how many perfect people do you know?), authenticity, and courage. Getting there, however, requires mindful discernment between shame and its cousinly emotions: embarrassment, humiliation, and guilt, so some definitions are in order.

Embarrassment is a response to something that threatens the image of ourselves (our persona – see last month’s blog), that we’d like others to believe about us. Sources of embarrassment fluctuate based on situations and who we’re with.

For example, nothing like realizing after you’ve been speaking to someone for 10 minutes that you’ve had a nose hair blowing in the breeze; if our persona’s projection is for perfect hygiene, we’ve obviously fallen below the bar, it’s beneath our projected image. If we can use compassionate self-talk, reminding ourselves that we’re certainly not the first ones to have longish nose hairs peeking out, we can move beyond the experience with humor.

If your mother’s 65 and shows up at your engagement party in a mini-skirt and go-go boots, it may cause embarrassment to you if you think it falls short of a family image of class and sophistication.

“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” Eleanor Roosevelt

And then there’s humiliation, what we feel as the recipient of a shaming attack by someone else. It consists of an incident that demonstrates a relationship of unequal powers, of experiences of power and powerlessness, where one is in an inferior position and unjustly diminished. Brene Brown uses this example of the difference between shame and humiliation: A teacher is handing back papers and one paper doesn’t have the student’s name on it, and publicly the teacher announces that the student is stupid. With healthy self-talk, the student will be humiliated and embarrassed, but will tell herself, “That is the meanest, most nasty teacher ever. I don’t deserve that.” If the child’s self-talk is, “Ugh. He’s right. I’m so stupid, why do I keep forgetting to put my name on my paper. I’m so stupid.” That’s shame.

“Shame is a soul-eating emotion.” Carl Jung

Segueing onto unraveling shame and guilt, the easiest way to remember is the following: Guilt says “I did something bad”; shame harangues us with “I AM bad.”

Guilt focuses on our behavior. Guilt feelings have to do with ethical or moral principles that we believe are necessary to be a “good” person that we have violated: I did something I shouldn’t have, or I didn’t do something that I should have. Generally speaking, guilt can be a positive, healthy response, when it’s used in a manner to correct something that was indeed wrong.

However, often these principles have come down to us through various authorities: our parents, religious leaders, or our teachers. Perhaps they’ve become laws to our consciences, an authority within our psyches and as we age, need to be re-examined to see if these principles translated into values are still serving us.

If rocking the boat was not allowed in any form for a child, then challenging bullies or an abusive status quo can bring about feelings of guilt when an individual on a personal growth trajectory knows leaving said abusive situation is the next step that’s required. These guilt feelings can quickly slide into shame, if the inner authority continues its tirade against boat rocking of any sort, AND throws in the “truth” that those who do so are bad people. In this case, one is led to believe that they deserve their shame.

Shame washes over us even if nothing external occurs, whereas its cousins pop in for a visit over external circumstances.

Adults who as children were abused, neglected, continually criticized, abandoned, or mistreated internalize the message that they do not fit in, that they are inadequate or unworthy.

Shame then arises when our self-image is doubted or under attack. Me writing this blog is a classic example.

If I believe I am a font of wisdom, and the way that is proven is by how many “likes” and/or “comments” that I receive on Facebook by admiring fans, when that falls short of my expectations, shame eats at my soul. In other words, when I need everyone’s approval to bolster a sagging self-esteem, if my self-worth is tied into needing others to say positive things about me, then “You are a Failure! You are a Failure!” screams at me when, in this case, I fall short of the 1.5 million positive comments I need.

Until we can shift our abusive self-talk to that of compassion toward ourselves, we will continue to believe shame’s message that we are unworthy.

So – pay attention to the emotions running through your body. Ask yourself when these painful encounters occur: Is this shame? Embarrassment? Humiliation? Guilt? Sit with them, breathe into them, and practice self-compassion, non-judgmentally. Embrace your experiences with gratitude; these are your teachers!


Sources include:

Works by Donald Nathanson, Shame and Pride: Affect, Sex, and the Birth of the Self; and his on-line materials.

Jacoby, Mario. Shame and the origins of self-esteem: A Jungian approach. 1994. Routledge; London.


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 other blogs Mary has written for People House:

 

Developing An Internal Sense of Safety || Dorothy Wallis

Developing an Internal Sense of Safety

 Much Ado about Fear (part 2)

 fear-pt-2

“Anxious, stressed, scattered, I can’t concentrate and can’t sleep through the night.  I am not in physical danger, but I just never feel safe.”  The aftermath of fearful situations or the uncertainty that the world is not a safe place can leave you shaky, unsure and on edge.  You have lost a grounded sense of security.  How do you develop an internal feeling of safety?  You may wonder if or even believe that a haven of serenity exists inside of you, but when fear arises you may wonder how to get past the fear.

In “Much Ado about Fear, part 1,” we found how fear initiates a natural visceral response to a perceived threat whether there is an actual threat or not.  The fear response instantaneously activates a protection mode of fight, flight or freeze to keep you safe from harm.  Even when your physical body is no longer in danger, you may experience lurking fear in the form of anxiety.  Only when you truly believe you are safe will your body calm down. 

Developing an internal sense of a permanent peaceful place within provides a knowing of inviolable safety and trust.  This sanctuary is found by moving into and beyond the transient experience of fear.  Yes, that’s right, touching the fear.  It sounds challenging because it is such a change from the way you may have previously related to fear.  For the most part, you have been taught that fear itself is dangerous and territory that you do not want to touch.

Here is the practice.  Move through it at your own pace and be aware of the feelings that arise.  Being Consciously Aware opens you to the experience.

How to Begin: Getting to Know Fear

Meet fear with the feeling of being welcomed into its home and getting to know it.  Approach this part of yourself gently and slowly; take your time.  Fear is an energetic expression of your emotional body to warn you.  You are entering the unknown.  It may be uncomfortable and much resistance may arise.  Open to fear with curiosity, spaciousness and a sense of discovery. 

Become consciously aware of your response to fear and approach fear as you would a supportive relationship.

Be Aware of Your Natural Tendency to Turn Away from Fear

Naturally, your impulse is to turn away.  The desire to not feel fear is normal because it is a feeling of not being safe.  You retract from feeling the physical sensations of fear in the same way you use to get away from danger.  You may fight fear by “toughening up,” suppressing and controlling the sensations, flee by distracting yourself or ignoring the sensations, or numbing the fear with drugs or alcohol.  All of these engage you in a battle against your own body and against yourself instead of addressing the cause of the fear. Your longing to not feel fear makes you more afraid and insecure.  You can’t fight, run away from or freeze fear into submission.  If you attempt to control it, it returns again and again as anxiety and grows louder.  Fear is a warning siren.  The only way to turn off a smoke alarm is to pay attention to it and physically connect with it.  It is wise to run out of the house to get away from fire, but running away from the alarm to stop it from ringing won’t work.

Be Willing to Touch the Fear with Compassion and Love

Approaching fear with a willingness to experience it with love for what it is protecting creates a new relationship with this part of you that is exquisitely designed to safeguard you.  A great benevolence and caring are at the heart of fear, which deeply cares for and protects you.  Underneath the desire to protect is immense love and compassion for yourself and others.  Touching fear with your Conscious Awareness transforms your understanding of it into an aspect that is known.

Allow Yourself to Experience the Physical Sensations of Fear

Have you ever been fully present with the physical sensations of fear?  Your reaction to fear is rapid and instinctual; it happens so quickly that you probably have not paid much attention to your bodily sensations.  Overcome your habitual tendency to not feel and your desire to not be afraid by choosing to discover this part of your being. 

Enter with Love. 

As fear arises, place your awareness on the physical sensations in your body.  Fear is a vibration of energy.  Notice where the energy is located in your body and where it moves.  Allow your curiosity to discover the subtle qualities.  What are the textures, temperature, sounds, smell and color of the energy?  Biological changes activate your body to protect itself.

Some of the physical sensations you may encounter are:

  • An abrupt, all encompassing movement of energy in your chest and throat
  • Your heart beating faster….your breathing becoming more rapid
  • Blood vessels constricting to shunt the blood around your body to your core, arms and legs
  • At the same time, you may get a cold flash or even trembling as the blood moves away from the skin and into your core
  • Your perception and awareness of what is around you increases
  • You become very alert and focused with increased clarity
  • Your sensing ability expands spherically far out from your body
  • You have a deep instinctual desire to get away or hide
  • You may have a sense of contraction, tightness or shrinking
  • Clarity diminishing when flooded with fear and panic

You will have your own unique experience of the sensations.  Notice what happens to you in different circumstances.  As you learn about your automatic responses make different choices in how you relate to fear.  Do you panic or react with more fear?  What happens when you choose to relate to fear with compassion and kindness?  How does your experience change when you know you can regulate your response?  You cannot eliminate fear and it would not be wise to do so but the more you get to know fear and gain confidence and trust in your ability to choose your response, the more you develop a sense of safety and security.

Stay Present, Connect, Inquire and Listen for the Underlying Truth

Once you have connected with the physical sensations of fear, and gain some skill with your ability to touch it, observe how the energy changes.  The intensity shifts, it comes and goes, and you have a greater awareness of its impermanent nature. 

Staying present with the fear, take a deep breath and increase the depth of your compassion and caring.  Love invokes a profound state of clarity.  Connect with the energy that is guarding and protecting a part of you.  Fear protects your body and your loved ones and also protects your values, beliefs and parts of yourself that you find unacceptable.  Often what keeps you from inhabiting a place of safety is your fear of what you may discover inside of yourself.  Inquire deeper within and see if what you care about protecting is still necessary or true for you.

Is it a belief I hold that is not in alignment with my authentic self?  Is this an essential part of myself?  What else may fear be protecting?  Is it hiding a disowned part of myself?  Is there something I fear even more than keeping the anxiety?  Am I holding on to a belief that I am innately bad, unworthy or unlovable?  Do I fear what I desire most: receiving love, intimacy, abundance, or relationship with God or Spirit?

Uncovering the emotional truth that fear has been protecting leads you into an awareness of your story and an exploration into your true self.  Look at how many times you have walked into fear.  What strengths and attributes have carried you through rough times?  What parts of you adapted?  Somehow, you have survived and that speaks of your resilience.  A sense of freedom and empowerment results from regaining disowned aspects of yourself and finding out that your essential nature is good, capable and wholesome.  Honor and appreciate your authentic self; allow the unfolding.  An internal sense of safety is a journey and is built from the recognition of your authentic power and trusting that there is an unwavering well of support and guidance within.

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Dorothy Wallis is a former intern at People House in private practice as an Individual and Couples Psychotherapist for over five years as well as an International Spiritual Teacher.  At the forefront of the consciousness movement for over thirty years, she is 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. 

She is 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.  

 

developing-saftey

Fun is the New Apple || Jenny St.Claire

Fun is the New Apple

By: Jenny St. Claire, People House Blog Contributor

 

self care and apple

Self-Care is a buzzword that is thrown around a lot. I find it is often given lip service, but not carried out on a regular basis.  Why is that?

Do we all suffer from FOMO (fear of missing out)?  If we say yes to taking care of ourselves, are we saying no to something else that sounds much more productive or exciting?

Whatever life looks like day in and day out, it is important to take a moment to notice what we actually need to care for ourselves.

BORING!

Most people I’ve asked who talk about self-care usually only reference three things:

  • Getting a massage
  • Going to counseling
  • Taking a bath

Those are amazing things to do for yourself!

But, what if those were the only three choices?  Even if you add getting enough sleep and eating well, how would that feel over time?  Confining?  Dull?  Boring? 

No wonder people aren’t making self-care a bigger priority!

Fun Factor

Fun is more than something we do.  It’s also a way of being. 

Remember the last time you really had fun.  You were probably smiling, relaxed or exhilarated, laughing, engaged and really present.  Now, try to imagine doing that same thing while also being lost in your thoughts, grumpy or striving to achieve.  The results would probably be pretty different if you were being something other than fun.

The old saying “Use it or lose it” definitely applies to our ability to be fun.  As we grow into adulthood and adopt the social rules of how to be a grown up, we have a tendency to set aside fun in favor of getting things done, being busy, and generally trying to make it through our hectic days.  Under the new operating system of “being an adult,” how has your ability to play and have fun been affected?

Why does this matter?

I’m sure you can relate to how draining getting through your day and week can be.  If you started with a full tank of your essence and wellbeing in the morning, how much of your tank did you use by bedtime?  Half? All of it?  How many of you have been running on fumes for a while?

If your tank is running low, how do you fill back up again?

If you like baths, how much of your tank does that fill?  How about a massage?  Let’s be real about what actually brings you back to a full tank.  It’s not the things we do once a month or once a week that are going to help us feel nourished.  It’s the things we do every day, sometimes several times a day, that really keep us going and make it a fulfilling ride.

This is where fun comes in, both in being and doing.  Make it a practice.  Seek it within yourself and your life.  It might be an attitude of adventure, discovery or always asking “what if?”  Maybe it’s a moment of shared laughter.  Maybe it’s a solo one song dance party.  Fun is available to us in every moment, no matter the task, if we allow ourselves to be open to receiving its restorative qualities.

Remember the last time you had a good laugh.  The kind where your face and stomach hurt, or you snorted.  How did you feel afterward?  Full?  Sated?  Connected?  All of these qualities of fun are directly related to self-care.  Fun is an overlooked element of caring for yourself, which is why it’s important to build it into your day.

Every day.  Several times a day.

Smorgasbord

Wouldn’t it be amazing if you had a whole smorgasbord of choices when it comes to fun and caring for yourself?  Then, you could pick something that would fit your mood, time, and need on any given day.

To broaden your view of what is possible, I have borrowed the work of Sarah Jenks (www.sarahjenks.com) who has categorized many ways to have fun. Here are some ideas:

  • Pleasure (five senses)
    • Massage
    • Delicious meal
    • Fragrant flowers
  • Romance
    • With significant other
    • With yourself
  • Friendship
    • Cultivate and nurture
  • Entertainment
    • Concert
    • Movie
    • Comedy Club
  • Adventure
    • Moves you just outside your comfort zone and gives you a bit of a rush
      • Ziplining
      • New Haircut
      • Trying something new
    • Space and Tuning Out
      • Sometimes we just need to BE
      • Be in nature!
    • Education
      • Learn something for FUN
        • Language
        • New recipe
        • Instrument
      • Creativity
        • What is creative to you?
          • Finding a new way home
          • Sewing
          • Making a collage
          • Building a new garden

Fun is the New Apple

They used to say that an apple a day would keep the doctor away.  With the pace of our lives these days, an apple isn’t enough!  We need to take a deep breath and check in with how we are doing.  Then, based on what we discover, we need to nourish ourselves in a way that our whole self is replete.

Take stock of your life and notice what’s missing.  If you’ve got the basics of your well being covered and you still feel like something is lacking, could it be fun?  Do any of the categories above speak to you?  In what big or small ways can you add elements of fun to your life?

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JennyAbout the Author: Jenny is one of the many phenomenal interns working in the People House Affordable Counseling Program. With over 15 years of experience as a Spiritual Counselor, 4 years as a teacher of meditation and energy work and 2 years as a Wellness Coordinator, Jenny is a wonderful addition to the People House community. Jenny is a gentle and reflective soul who is committed to inspiring her clients to reconnect with themselves, find meaning and create positive changes. For more information or to contact Jenny, please see her therapist bio.

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