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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

Getting Off the Hamster Wheel ll Erin Amundson

Getting off The Hamster Wheel
By: Erin Amundson

     A little girl on a hamster wheel. This is the central focus of a young man’s dream we are working on at the International Association for the Study of Dreams Conference last week. It’s his dream. And he had an intention before he slept that night to connect to a dream that would help him improve his inner relationship to his mother.

     As the group collectively dug into this dream, I found myself strangely disconnected from it. As a psychotherapist who specializes in dream work, I’m typically deep into the dream long before we even engage a process to work with it. But, I thought, my relationship to my mother is really good.

I don’t need to work on this – this dream doesn’t apply to me.

     Anyone who has ever done dream work with me knows that my response to a statement like the one I was making in my own head would be something like, really? Why don’t we see? And, yes, there is a bit of playful prodding in that. Of course, I wasn’t going there. I actually found myself distracted. This should have been my first clue that this man’s dream contained something I didn’t want to look at. Something deep in my subconscious.

     In any case, I navigated the 2 hour workshop with curiosity but no emotion, with respect but no involvement, with appreciation but no growth. And I should have known.

     As it often goes in dream work, the dream images are multi-layered and represent an area in our subconscious that is asking to come into our conscious awareness. Little did I realize, I was the girl on the hamster wheel through that entire 2 hour process. Running and running and getting nowhere, perhaps because I felt way to exposed and vulnerable with the depth of the emotions that lie under the surface.

Especially since I am one of the experts in the field. The experts don’t lose it, right?

     But I did. I actually broke down and wept, an hour after the workshop, alone in my hotel room. Shades drawn, do not disturb on the door, blankets up over my head. My temptation had been to attend the next workshop, to go have lunch with others, to swim….anything to keep myself on that hamster wheel when I felt the wave of emotion welling up.

     So the dam broke, and still there was confusion. This wasn’t about my mom at all. That I was telling the truth about. As I sunk into the feeling, I realized that I was facing saying goodbye to an amazing experience of connection as the conference was coming to an end. I had new friends. I had a world of dreamers around me. I felt at home and alive there. Rather than facing the grief of losing this, I preferred to stay on my hamster wheel. But as dream work goes, my awareness moved me off the hamster wheel, and the landing felt very abrupt.

     Like many of us, I struggle with abandonment. I’ve worked a long time to heal this aspect of my wounding, and I’m down to the relationship I have with myself. While the man was dreaming about an outside relationship, my connection to the dream was in me. And it was clear that I needed to find a way to get the girl on the hamster wheel to stop running. To do this, I first had to explore what my hamster wheel is, and I’m going to invite you to consider the same. Here are my main hamster wheels:
1. Business. I can stay busy for days. Laundry, work, catching up phone calls, making too many social plans, going to the gym – I’ve got to get it all done!
2. Rabbit hole thoughts – I can obsess over something that happened day one of my group facilitation that nobody else even noticed. Such as my perception that I held the meditation a bit too long.
3. Perfectionist or Inner Critic Tendencies – these guys will run and run for as long as you let them. I guarantee they get you nowhere.
4. Intellectualism – I will do research, I will “figure out the reason” I’m feeling a certain way, or I will endeavor to learn something new all to avoid my emotional processes.
5. Any type of addictive or substance use behavior. Emotional eating, drinking too much or out of boredom, over exercising, not eating enough, shopping, planning the future, gambling, working too much. Really any behavior can fit into this category if the energy of it feels out of balance.
6. Taking care of others at the expense of caring for myself.

     At this conference, I felt very deeply, yet I was busy facilitating, socializing and analyzing anytime I wasn’t deep in a dream. I hadn’t given myself the space to process all of the healing, hope, and creation that had come from my work there. And just when I thought I was through it, another dreamer’s image jumped out and grabbed me – this was the most powerful moment of the entire week for me.
When we are able to recognize we are on the hamster wheel, we have the opportunity to step off and into an authentic expression of soul. We’re no longer running from what we feel, or who we truly are in the world.

Consider your hamster wheel for a moment. How do you know when you’re there?


     Erin Amundson loves helping people reconnect to their natural technology by decoding the language of dreams.  She is a healer, a depth psychologist and an entrepreneur who specializes in teaching people how to identify and remove barriers to success and make friends with their subconscious mind.  

     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.

Special Edition Blog! ~The Gift of Music~

By: Craig Fruend
“A community united by the ideals of compassion and creativity has incredible power. Art of all kinds— music, literature, traditional arts, visual arts— can lift a community.” 
-Martin O’Malley 
As a community at large and particularly as a nation, we have endured a great-deal of recent hardship. From natural disasters and concerns around governmental shifts, to anxiety surrounding national security and future direction, this year has been particularly challenging. With an engaging role in the community People House strives to support the greater Denver Metropolitan area through affordable counseling and mental health, as well as with spiritual services. 
At People House we continue to see an increased demand for these services and strive to meet the needs of all that might benefit. The People House mission would not be possible if it weren’t for the active participation of caring and supportive organizations, families and individuals. On November 5thThe Gift of Music will be hosted by Denver’s top jazz club Dazzle. As a community, we will gather in support of fellowship and the greater good!
With excellent music in an excellent venue, this event will offer a fun night out in the heart of Lodo in downtown Denver, as well as the opportunity to support a great cause. With 6 great bands on 2 stages and excellent silent auction items, not to mention the raging cocktails and eclectic foods offered by DazzleThe Gift of Music will not disappoint! As we know, music can be extremely nurturing, unifying and even FUN. It has been said that “united we stand and divided we fall, so if you’re looking to unite, as well as a great excuse to get out and have a great time, look no further… Join us for the Gift of Music!
 
See more of our story in the Westword or with ePR News!
“It’s not only music. It’s not only art. It’s a community. It’s a sense of having a place to belong.” -Jared Lets

Erasing Shame ll Rich Brodt

Erasing Shame

By: Rich Brodt

            The Oxford English Dictionary defines darkness as both an absence of light, and as wickedness or evil. I take the former to refer to an overall state of literal or figurative darkness. One might say that America is in a time of darkness. Trust in the system is at an all time low due to the actions of our leaders, and people are figuratively in the dark as a result of the media’s inability to consistently report accurate facts. The first definition is easy enough to take at face value, but the second definition gives me pause. Under that second definition, “wickedness or evil,” the Dictionary lists several sub-definitions such as “[u]nhappiness or gloom,” “[s]ecrecy or mystery,” and “[l]ack of spiritual or intellectual enlightenment; ignorance.”

            These definitions are fascinating. They explain the definition of darkness as “wickedness or evil.”

These definitions indicate that unhappiness, gloom, secrecy, and a lack of enlightenment are essentially evil or wicked. Some of the purportedly evil things are the same words we might use to describe mental health issues. “Gloom” or “unhappiness” could easily refer to a depressed individual’s state of mind – and this is how we are defining wickedness or evil. 

            The stigma of mental illness has improved somewhat over the years, however, these are still the messages that society sends to unhappy people. If you are unhappy, something within you must be flawed. The definition treats the negative feelings more like unwanted interlopers than valid emotion. Yet the definition merely reflects what is readily observable in American culture. We are taught to praise the image of a person who is ascending, succeeding, working hard, living a “happy” life. Depression is not depicted as a natural part of life, instead it is portrayed as a defect, a character flaw. I believe this is because we are made uncomfortable by another’s pain.

So on top of sending the message that it is not okay to be depressed, we are also asking depressed individuals to hide their true emotions in order to make us more comfortable.

            These messages force people into hiding, severing connections that are essential to individual growth and positive thinking. By avoiding these uncomfortable topics, we send the message that they are taboo. As a result, negative feelings are suppressed. It seems that this is often followed by detachment and aloofness. Our discomfort with another’s pain causes them to suppress further. Others, sensitive to these messages from an early age, may adopt a false persona to blend in with the people they perceive as normal. This can be dangerous. The continued effort of suppressing one’s true self around other people is exhausting. When an individual suppresses their feelings to this extent it eventually leads to worsening levels of depression, self-harm, and isolation.          

            As a culture, we want people to be “happy.” However, happiness is not meant to be a permanent state. If happiness was permanent, there would be no drive to grow or to improve one’s self. A state of bliss is a nice vacation, but if we stayed there we would probably have far fewer chances to evolve. Stress, anxiety, tragedy, grief and trauma are all a part of the process of becoming who we are. The more we shut ourselves off from the darkness that life challenges us with, the less we are able to accommodate and appreciate moments of light.

            This is largely why I feel that therapists need to spend time working through the taboo thoughts that their client may be having, normalizing them and allowing the individual to understand the reasons for them. For example, at some point, most of us will counsel someone on the verge of losing a loved one. Sometimes, the client will shamefully reveal that the relative’s suffering is so difficult to bare that they would prefer if their loved one would die already. While the statement is impactful, it is not bad or wrong. It can be shocking since the statement is inherently hopeless. However, this shows me that the individual is open to their feelings and not detaching from them. The individual usually feels shame and guilt around even having such thoughts. When they do, I try to remind them that what they are thinking is natural. The mind tries to find a way to relieve itself from suffering. Fantasizing that this person has already passed does exactly that – allows the mind to envision a situation where the suffering has ceased. It provides a comfort.

It is important to normalize this thought process, allowing the client to see there is no reason to feel shame.

            This process can be used to facilitate the processing of other similarly taboo thoughts a client may experience. I believe that there is a reason for every thought; for negative/dark/taboo thought, the reason is usually related to some kind of emotional or physical pain that the individual needs escape from. If that unwanted thought can be traced to something distressing, the individual can begin to understand why the dark thoughts started to emerge. This helps to relieve feelings of shame, and keeps the client moving forward free of judgment.


References

Darkness. (2017). In Oxford.  Retrieved from https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/darkness.


About the Author: Rich Brodt is a Registered Psychotherapist and former attorney with over 7 years of mental health treatment experience. He is especially interested in working with trauma, grief, existential themes in counseling, and the link between psychology and philosophy. He is currently in private practice conducting group and individual therapy at Elevated Counseling, PLLC 2727 Bryant Street Suite 550, Denver, CO 80211 and can be reached at (720) 295-1352 for scheduling inquiries.

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!

Feminism as a Path to Healing: Part 2 ll Mary Coday Edwards

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.
September 12, 2017

“I decided you didn’t need it,” said a retired, older white man (OWM) to me in my not too distant past.

“Whoa,” I thought, while simultaneously, “Warning! Warning! Danger ahead!” clanged my internal alarm systems.

And then I razzed this potential colleague mercilessly about his god-like powers enabling him to know my truth.

Unfortunately, he didn’t get it.

Normally I avoid collaborative ventures with OWM, but this one has a good heart, and the nonprofit I was tip-toeing into had the potential for increasing the planet’s greater good, so I risked it. However, my somewhat mature and somewhat wiser self now enters into such endeavors consciously. Life is short, so I choose to divert my limited energy into life-flourishing undertakings and I needed to research his organization.

Over a span of three weeks – again, and again, and again – I asked for the Articles of Incorporation. These are legal documents and available to the public.  During those weeks, the OWM wanted commitments from me, but as I humorously explained to him many times, “how can I commit until I know what I am committing TO?”

The Articles were the documents he had “decided” I “didn’t need,” a comment he eventually made in passing, as if it was perfectly normal and acceptable for him to decide for me.

ENTITLEMENT, CONTROL, & COMMAND: CHARACTERISTICS OF A PATRIARCHAL SYSTEM

Patriarchy commonly means social systems in which power is primarily held by adult men – and in Western culture, that would be predominantly white adult men.

Author Sue Monk Kidd says the characteristics of a patriarchal system include (1):

Entitlement: the belief that one is inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment.

Control: the power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.

Command: give an authoritative order; have authority over, be in charge of; dominate from a superior height

Strongly influenced by feminist thinking in both science and theology, physicist-turned-theologian Ian Barbour speaks of patriarchal assumptions underlying scientific research and discovery.

“Control and domination of nature express attitudes associated more often with men than women in Western culture”, he says. And, that “in a patriarchal society, the exploitation of women and nature have a common ideological root …. Scientists participate in these manipulating attitudes when they make control and prediction, rather than understanding, their goal.” (2, pgs 24, 149.)

Patriarchal values (which are not necessarily male values) include the belief that one is entitled to control, command, and dominate. This always implies a one-way relationship, whether it be political, personal, or religious: someone has to dominate and someone has to submit; someone has to be right, someone has to be wrong; someone has to control, someone is the controllee.

This OWM did eventually send me the documents.  But at an unconscious level, he believed he was entitled to tell me, an adult woman, that he knew what was best for me, thus revealing that his worldview still included the erroneous right of control and command – as if I was a small child.

LOVINGKINDNESS: IT DOESN’T MEAN APPROVAL

My younger self faithfully served as a handmaiden to the dominant male culture for far too many years (3). In some cases, I actually believed patriarchy’s ardent male and female supporters would see, like a parasite, how the system drained life out of the very ones it depended upon for its existence.

I could have been the poster child for Einstein’s definition of insanity: Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.

This OWM’s words revealed his unconscious bias.  A successful businessman before he retired, he is a product of a 3,000-year-old patriarchy system; it’s in his DNA.

I get this – and I can extend lovingkindness to him without approving of his life-denigrating actions toward me – or feeling compelled to be “nice”.

That’s why, and because of his good heart, I stuck with it for three weeks, even while he lightly dismissed my requests as trivial. If this had been part of a patriarchal system, I wouldn’t have had a choice, and it would have been institutionalized oppression, pervasive in the United States until woman’s suffrage in 1920 (it’s still prevalent – just not so obvious).

In my last blog, I spoke of how the patriarchy sends both women AND men to my office, seeking healing from their woundings.  Feminism means being able to make the choices that are right for you.

In addition, as adults we carry this bossy and demanding patriarchal authority unconsciously within us, long past its expiration date. While reading this blog, if any feelings or emotions surfaced or wiggled 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 (4):

Mindfulness is paying attention on purpose,
in the present moment,
and nonjudgmentally,
to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.

______

Notes & Sources: Kidd, Sue Monk. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine. HarperCollins; 1996. Pg. 199.

1.) Kidd, Sue Monk. The Dance of the Dissident Daughter. A Woman’s Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine. HarperCollins; 1996. Pg. 199.

2.) Barbour, Ian. Religion and Science; Historical and Contemporary Issues. HarperSanFrancisco, 1997.

3.) Murdock, Maureen. The Heroine’s Journey, pg 2. Shambhala Publications, 1990.

4.) 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:

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!

Feminism as a Path to Healing || Mary Coday Edwards

Blog 18: Feminism as a path to healing

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.
July 25, 2017

“What I do is not up to you,” Wonder Woman schools Steve Trevor when he decrees: “I can’t let you do this.”

In other words, patriarchal values of London’s World War I don’t control her. When men try to define her, confine her, or exclude her, she just goes about being herself, listening to her intuition, and continuing her mission of eliminating as much suffering as she can.

Of course, supernatural powers make for a pretty good backup.

But first, as a disclaimer: patriarchal systems are not necessarily male values (more of that in next month’s blog).

IF I’M NICE ENOUGH, THEY’LL LET ME PLAY

For many years I avoided using THAT WORD – feminism. While I was against unjust patriarchal social institutions that kept men and women as children, THAT WORD was too loaded, so I focused my energy on ecological injustices and the complex web of life we’re all participants of. After all, I reasoned, if we’re all in this together – down to the soil molecules we depend on for food – surely intellectually we as a species would come to our senses and want ALL life to flourish. That’s in our best interests, as members of humanity.

And a definition of feminism includes this relationality, this interconnectedness. If we’re all in this together, why should anyone/anything be excluded from decision-making in our political, educational, and economic institutions?

Alas and yes – I was so naïve.

True, for almost 20 of those years I lived and worked in Third-World nations, hearing often enough of Westerners forcing their values on the rest of the world as a form of colonization.

But a Human Rights Conference in Peshawar, Pakistan, put that myth to rest, as well as a wise, male Iranian professor, who stressed that these were basic HUMAN rights. But yet, in order to not offend, I still came about it from an indirect way.

And who did I worry of offending or angering?

Those with vested interests in continuing the status quo, those who stood to lose through the demise of the patriarchal system. As a child of patriarchy, I was waiting for permission and, therefore, living with an unconscious filter: If I’m nice enough, they’ll let me play.

That’s not a filter Wonder Woman lives by.

MAKING CHOICES THAT ARE RIGHT FOR YOU

FEMINISM basically means equality and being able to make the choices that are right for you – whatever your gender is. Webster formally defines it “as the policy, practice, or advocacy of political, economical, and. social equality for women.”   

Feminism includes the belief that being a woman or gender non-conforming person is as valuable as a being a man – not better than.

And in its quest for social justice, feminism calls out those who use their power and position to abuse the marginalized. Not a man-hater, Wonder Woman wasn’t into protecting anyone’s ego – regardless of gender – in her mission to end suffering (see Note 1).

Irreconcilable with feminism is PATRIARCHY, defined by Webster as a social system in which the chief authority is the father or eldest male member of the family, clan, or ruling system. Breaking this down:

  • Like a pyramid, an extremely small number of people hold all the power over the majority.
  • Since the “fathers” only qualify to rule, it presupposes male superiority.
  • Thus characterized by androcentrism, the dominant norms and values center on male perceptions, interpretations, experience, needs, and interests, thereby marginalizing women, intersex people, and non-binary gendered people.
  • This minority decrees who is worthy to access material goods and the means to that, such as education, jobs, and political influence.
  • Generally speaking, the tasks allotted to men will be more highly valued and rewarded than those tasks allotted to women.

FEMINISM AS A PATH TO HEALING

Daily I encounter souls deeply wounded by patriarchy and its values – both men and women.

Sensitive, spiritual, and creative, they come to me cut off from the deepest parts of who they are – parts generally seen as weak by our culture and therefore nonacceptable. They conformed in order to avoid pain, humiliation, ridicule, and often familial ostracization.

Their journeys back to wholeness include not only taking individual responsibility for their own responses and the re-membering of these shamed bits, but acknowledging the social oppression that colluded in these woundings. And then taking the next step – working to dismantle these societal norms (see Note 2) embedded in our political, education, and economic institutions that perpetuate the wounding.

In next month’s blog, we’ll look at our cultural values, beliefs, attitudes, and actions. We’ll be searching for those that enable all life to flourish in our interconnectedness.

Meanwhile, mindfully pay attention to what gives you life and what, if anything, needs to change to support that transforming energy.

______

Notes & Sources:

1.) Weiss, Suzannah; July 5, 2016. https://www.bustle.com/articles/170721-7-things-the-word-feminist-does-not-mean
2.)Mander, Anica Vesel, and Rush, Anne Kent. Feminism as Therapy. Random House. 1977.
3.)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.
_______

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

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 Grief: The Power to Learn to Love Again || Craig Freund

Men and Grief: The Power to Learn to Love Again

By Craig Freund

 

“Grief never ends, but it changes. It’s a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. Grief is the price of love.” -Unknown

Often, we learn to love without one day expecting that it may change. We may learn to love unconditionally, without reason, intention or restitution. We may love like we’ve never been and won’t ever be hurt, while in fact, this may be love in it’s purest, most open and trusting form. As much as we love, inevitably, we will all one day find that love hurts and that grief is the price we pay for having had the glorious opportunity of a loving experience.

While love can be one of the most fulfilling experiences, the loss of love can be one of the most painful. For anyone, but especially for men, navigating the experience of love and it’s intimate partner grief can be a lonely, confusing and troubling experience. Although modern masculine stereotypes seem to be on the move, traditionally, men are taught to suppress emotion, never to cry and never to reach out.

In terms of emotion, for men, it is traditionally only acceptable to express stoicism and anger. For this reason, men often resort to feelings of anger or irritability when what may be under the surface is an experience of sadness and sorrow. This struggle with grief is not limited to the death of a loved one, but might be a break-up, lost opportunity or an old lifestyle. In varying degrees, grief accompanies our experience with loss, change or growth.

While grief can be one of the most intense emotional struggles in our inherently vulnerable human experience, attempting to suppress and avoid related feelings can only lead to greater difficulty in processing grief. Suppressing these strong feelings may prevent a sort of emotional or cathartic release. With this, men can experience shame in addition to the socially unacceptable difficult emotion.

As you can see, the grief process for men can become exceptionally complicated by various societal and cultural expectations and self-imposed limitations. Often, due to their upbringing and these cultural norms, men may not recognize the underlying core emotion and the process of suppressing becomes automatic or even unconscious.

As a result, displaced and unrecognized emotion may lead to social irritability, domestic violence, or substance abuse. This process of suppression and lack of emotional expression, can lead to what has been amusingly referred to as emotional constipation. As time passes, this lack of emotional expression might even lead to clinical depression, anxiety disorders, addiction, domestic violence or even suicidality.

This stunted grief may be one possible contributing factor in the shocking statistic that nearly 80% of completed suicides are by men. Furthermore, this issue of emotional constipation may reach beyond an individual struggle and on a more global level contribute to crime, violence, lack of role models and general societal difficulty.

 The question becomes, how do we deal with this issue and how do we support men in their grief process so that they might learn to love again? For starters, it’s important to normalize the myriad of difficult emotions that might need to be expressed. From sadness to guilt and even nostalgia, grief can bring up a wide variety of emotions. Male or female, masculine or feminine, these emotions are a completely normal and an even healthy part of grief.

Next, we can label these emotions and work to understand them. In regards to grief, what might sadness need to say? What might regret have to say about our loss? They might say that you’ve lost something near and dear, they might say that you wish you’d had more time with your loved one. As we normalize and listen, we might then allow ourselves to experience and feel the emotion, all in hopes of allowing for the relief of an emotional release.

Finally, let’s not forget to breath through this process and cope with what comes up. In grief, these feelings can often be overwhelming, this makes it important to find healthy ways to cope. With this, some men have found that tangible, related projects can be cathartic. For example, some men might benefit from a dedicated wood working project, art creation, memory box or even writing a song. These intentional and sometimes dedicated coping strategies don’t impede the process, but can better facilitate steps toward healing.

With this, keep in mind that is not necessary to take on the grief process all at once, but instead, if possible it is important to balance this with healthy coping or distraction. This isn’t a task to be completed, but a natural process to be engaged and respected.

 -Normalize

-Label Emotion

-Listen & Feel

-Breath & Cope

 Although grief may never end, with time and respect for the process, we can learn to live with it. The experience of grief itself might come and go, but generally speaking with respect for this process the intensity of the grief may lessen.

Most importantly, as we honor these emotions and the role they take in our process, we can hope that we might learn to love again. We can hope that we might learn to love with open hearts, unrestrained by the difficulty of suppressed emotion and stalled or displaced grief. Men with open hearts and the capacity to love become positive leaders, role models and fathers, demonstrating strength in a manner that will empower our fellow man to lead happy, healthy and successful lives.

Moving forward we might work to raise young men in a manner that normalizes emotional experiences, fosters emotional maturity and empowers an understanding of the information offered from our emotional states. 

In my work, I often encounter men who haven’t had the opportunity to develop the capacity for emotional intelligence, they’ve either explicitly or implicitly been taught to stuff their feelings and this, rather than expression is what has been reinforced.

With a collective effort, we can teach the importance of these emotional processes and allow boys to become men who are empowered to feel, able to love and are present for their families.

“What I needed more than anything was the strength, courage and permission to grieve.” -Ken Druck

“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die.” Thomas Campbell

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

Dancing With Change || Dorothy Wallis

Dancing with Change by Dorothy Wallis

Life is movement, change, and continual transformation.  

If everything stayed the same life would not only be boring, it would cease to exist.  When you are challenged with changes in your life that seemingly “come out of the blue,” or are initiated by external forces or that you are unprepared for, it is natural to put on the brakes and resist.  Sometimes change is hard to understand.   As Alan Watts says, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”   These days I am feeling the quick motion of life sweeping me off my feet into an entirely new realm and the only thing I can do is go with the flow.  Jumping into this river of life can be demanding because it can be so easy and comfortable to stay on the shore of what is known….  

The only Way to make sense out of Change is to Plunge into it,

Move with it, and Join the Dance”  

~ Alan Watts

I’ve had my share of uncomfortable and sad moments with the process of moving out of my home and town that I’ve known for 24 years.  Yet, even this town is not the same as when I first moved here.  It has changed big time.  The slow paced lifestyle of a small country mining town has turned into an upscale hip gathering mecca drawing people into its vortex of dynamic energy.  There are still the hometown parades but now the downtown is buzzing with lively restaurants that are filled every day and hour of the week.  Community has a new face.  The personality of the town has changed reflecting the current wave of lifestyle embodied by a new generation of occupants.  

I realize my nostalgia is for a time that has passed and I am feeling the same pangs for “what was” that my grandmother felt when she left her farm for a half-acre in town.  That was downsizing for her.  Whatever change in breadth and scope of place or circumstance is an adjustment.  The faster pace of life with more cars, more people, houses stacked edge to edge and lack of space is something I am reluctant to face.  Adapt, I must and adapt I will.  

My heart is full even as it aches.  I am cherishing thousands of precious moments of love, beauty, and memories that have added such richness to my life.  I am not the same person that first laid eyes upon this plot of land.  I have grown and changed; my family and friends have grown and changed too.  These eyes have always appreciated the process of creation and growth and I see the beauty in what has transpired not just in the land but mostly in the hearts of my companions and neighbors.  Are we more loving….more caring?  Our shared experience of life has mellowed our hard line ideals.  We have grown together….raised our children, helped one another in times of need, and been involved in giving time and energy to our schools and community, forging an unspoken but deeply felt bond of trust and understanding.  We have matured and learned how to forgive and let go of expectations.  

There is a sense of completion in this phase of life.  One by one the original families that settled in our little hamlet are selling their homes as their grown children venture into the world. Families with young children are moving in. Their spirit infuses these streets with fresh stimulating energy.  I hear the sounds of laughter and giggling as the children play games in the meadow and feel reassured of the continuity of life.  “The beat goes on” with the humming rhythm of the eternal cycle.  What comes next, I do not know.  Life holds the promise of utterly unique metamorphosis and diversity. So, I take the plunge and dance, dance, dance into my beautiful life of infinite possibility.  May you too treasure each incomparable moment, let go of regret, find the power in forgiveness, notice the good, appreciate kindness, see the beauty in the unfolding transformation and dance into the never ending journey of change.


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

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!

Mother Earth: At the table or ON the table? || Mary Coday Edwards

Mother Earth: AT the table or ON the table?
By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.
May 30 , 2017
(The views in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of People House).

Exclusion.

Dredges up unpleasant memories for most of us, defined as the act of not allowing someone or something to take part in an activity or to enter a place; it’s a shutting out, a barring, a denying from participation.

When I lived in Peshawar back in the 1990s, its summer heat of 110 degrees plus rationed electricity would send me, my family, and friends up to the cool breezes of Pakistan’s Swat Valley. After an hour’s drive, we’d turn off the valley’s Grand Trunk four-lane highway and begin the (on a good day) three-hour, slow crawl north up a dizzying, narrow, and winding mountain road. With its headwaters in the towering Hindu Kush Mountains, the great Swat River followed alongside us, sometimes spreading gently in a wide plain, but more often carving its way through narrow canyon walls hundreds of feet below us.

Close to the Afghan-Pakistan border, the valley’s inhabitants share the ultra-conservative values of the Pushtun people (1), in particular those governing women who are excluded from economic and political life, their influence limited to the home – maybe.

We’d drive/crawl through village after village, the road through each one long bazaar, with donkeys, ox carts, jeeps, bicycles, and people demanding space among the push-carts selling vegetables, fruit, plastic wares, slabs of meat, and winter scarves.

Swat River, near Madyan. Photo by Xain, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=39968979

Missing from this crowded jumble of life? Women. Sometimes I’d spot the occasional yet-to-reach-puberty female child. And if a woman needed new shoes? Her husband/father/brother was sent off to the bazaar, with her foot drawn on a piece of paper to be matched to a shoe size. Pakistan’s female rural literacy rate 25 years ago was about 2 percent – defined as being able to read and write their name.

I’d sit demurely in the car, with my white, tablecloth-sized chador wound around my body and just my pale face showing, eyes covered in dark sunglasses. Exposing myself and hence breaking long-held social taboos could invite violence. I’d learned to avoid mob mentality.

Our destination, Swat’s Mingora, with its long history as a cultural and economic center, along with its ancient Buddhist, Hindu, and Muslim kings, was more relaxed in the early 1990s around the female presence, especially the foreign female presence. Arriving there in the early afternoon, I became visible again and could unwind in the hotel’s calming, lush, cool gardens – metaphorically and physically – still modestly dressed in the traditional shawar kamise but without my chador.

But the dark cloud of female exclusion would replace my chador, wrapping me in its gloom. By the next morning, however, I could sense its heavy darkness easing away from my shoulders. It was only after that release that my body would begin recovering from its weird heat-related symptoms of Peshawar.

“Rights for Nature articles acknowledge that nature in all its life forms has the right to exist, persist, maintain and regenerate its vital cycles.” Ecuadorian Constitution

The political provides a glut of exclusion examples: Native Americans camping in the snow to protect sacred lands based on treaties while politicians bow to corporate greed; voting laws changed to protect powerful vested interests; photos of only male politicians gathered to sign health bills – bills that impact women; education bills passed that shut out those in poverty from a decent education.

But not only are just people of color, women, and the poor barred from the table of participation and denied their basic human rights: What about the rights of nature? (2)

Last week I experienced that same feeling of grief due to exclusion, but this time it wasn’t Pakistan’s Swat Valley, but Southern California.

I had spent hours driving on paradise paved. Absent from the scene was nature in all its wildness. Grief again clothed me at this loss and exclusion of nature, the violence the human species commits daily with impunity against the natural community we are embedded in.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and Beach was my destination, and walking on its sandy paths with all my senses gratefully soaking up nature’s gifts, I felt that shroud of mourning slipping from my shoulders. Later, Torrey Pines Docent Fran Doolittle told how protecting this fragile 1,500-acre reserve of endangered flora and fauna from encroachment by developers was a constant struggle. And while a single steel rope fence clearly demarcates the path, “we can’t keep people on the path,” she said. “These plants receive little water,” she continued, and tourists tramp through them, increasing the stress on their already tenuous existence.

That, and visitors leaving their trash, which she explained had drastically decreased since Torry Pines  stopped selling disposable plastic water bottles in 2013 (3), replacing them with the sale of reusable bottles (4).

Our current administration excludes the environment from the policy table (5).

Instead of cleaning up their messes, coal mining companies are free to dump their poisons into the lifeblood of the earth – our waterways. Pesticide runoff once again threatens our protected wetlands and tributaries – nurseries to thousands of ecosystem species.

And according to the U.S. 2017 Energy and Employment Report, “nearly 1 million Americans are working near- or full-time in the energy efficiency, solar, wind, and alternative vehicles sectors. This is almost five times the current employment in the fossil fuel electric industry, which includes coal, gas, and oil workers.”

But yet this administration feels compelled to open up our fragile offshore ecosystems and our protected national lands to the fossil fuel industries – without compensation for decreased human, as well as water, air and earth ecosystem health benefits. And taking into account community benefits, if all these services were correctly priced and included in the costs of resources – a cornerstone of capitalism – we wouldn’t be having this discussion, as the oil and gas sector couldn’t afford it.

Thunderous Silence

To those stripped of humility and a true understanding of humanity’s position as a member of the web of life, Mother Earth is considered “property” to be exploited.  Nature won’t bully her way to the front of the crowd, but she does speak in thunderous silence.  Ignore this powerful voice within us and that web disintegrates.

We are her. Her life courses through us in that interconnectedness; she sits at the table through us.  And no one can deny us our voice.

_______

Notes & Sources:

1.)One valley further east lays the city of Murree – also of cooler temps but located in the more liberal district of Punjab. In those days it was a longer trek from Peshawar.

2.)In 2008 Ecuador became the first country to recognize the rights of nature in their constitution. It takes the concept of Environmental Rights to the next logical conclusion by bestowing rights unto nature itself. The people have the legal authority to enforce these rights on behalf of ecosystems. The ecosystem itself can be named as the defendant.

3.)https://torreypine.org/wp-content/uploads/nl/2016/1607.pdf https://www.banthebottle.net/bottled-water-facts/

4.)Plastic bottles are the largest single contributor to national parks solid waste load, averaging nearly one-third of all solid waste in parks surveyed(https://www.peer.org/news/news-releases/more-national-parks-ban-plastic-bottle-sales.html).

5.)http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/how-trump-is-changing-science-environment/;https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/05/02/climate/environmental-rules-reversed-trump-100-days.html

6.)https://energy.gov/downloads/2017-us-energy-and-employment-report; https://www.nrdc.org/experts/lara-ettenson/us-clean-energy-jobs-surpass-fossil-fuel-employment


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 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

Lessons from the Bird at my Window || Lora Cheadle

Lessons From The Bird at My Window

By Lora Cheadle

For about three weeks now I’ve had a robin who throws himself at my foyer window.

The foyer is two stories tall and the window is inaccessible from the ground floor. There are no window coverings.  Every morning, and again in the afternoons, the bird sits in the tree outside the window and repeatedly throws himself against the glass.

At first we had no idea what he was doing, calling him our suicide bird, but then I learned that in mating season, birds are very territorial. He was seeing his reflection in the mirror as another bird, and he was simply trying to protect his territory.

If we turn both the upstairs hall light and the foyer light on, it sometimes dims his reflection enough so he quits, but not always. With a hypnotizing rhythm, he throws himself against the glass, returns to the branch, shakes himself off, and throws himself against the glass again. And again. Easily, for two hours every day.

I’m afraid he will hurt himself. I’m afraid that one day I’ll step out my front door and see his tiny bird body on the ground, neck broken. I go outside and talk to him, I go inside and jump around inside the window and try to scare him, but none of it does any good.

Then it dawned on me. Maybe this bird is here for me. Maybe this bird is here to teach me something that I’m not noticing in my own life.

Fighting Our Own Reflection

How many times have I fought something that wasn’t really there? How many times have I defended my territory against something that was an illusion? Could it be that there were times where I thought I was persevering, pushing ahead with strength and determination, while others were looking at me with pity, or even laughing at my folly?

Have others tried to get my attention, to let me know that I was fighting my own reflection, but I didn’t notice? Perhaps. I started thinking about the times where I’ve stood my ground, defended my territory.

It’s interesting, because as a female who wanted to please, and then as a mom, I have spent a lot of years learning how to stand up for myself. My instinct still is to take the short stick. I can handle it, I can make others happy, I don’t really care.

Whenever I open a loaf of bread, I dig out the two heels and I eat those first. Not because I like the heels, but because I know my family won’t eat the heels, and it’s easier to get the two heels out of the way first, so nobody else is stuck with the heels. Except me. Because I can take it. This is a fight I’d never take on. This is territory I would never defend. But what if I did?

The Choices I Willingly Make

If I didn’t eat the two heels, my family would keep them wrapped in the bread bag, stashed in the refrigerator forever, waiting until I ate them or threw them away. Which would drive me crazy. Seeing the uneaten heels of the bread would bring a multitude of bad thoughts to mind. Every time I’d open the refrigerator, I’d get irritated. If I said something, my family would probably say something simple, like, “Throw them out if you’re not going to eat them.”

But I don’t like wasting food, so I’d either have to eat them anyway or throw them away. But I couldn’t make someone else eat them. If I did nothing, eventually, my entire refrigerator would be stuffed with bread bags containing the two heels from each loaf. I’d be the one fighting myself, not liking anyone else’s solutions, banging endlessly against my own reflection. Which is why I simple eat the two heels first. I avoid the whole scenario.

But bread is minor. What about the big things, where I feel strongly about defending my territory?

The Choices I Unwillingly Make

This last week, my husband did something that really upset me, yet he refused to apologize. I felt like I needed an apology, like the core of my being was wounded. Even though I know he made the mistake inadvertently, I still needed that apology. But he doesn’t apologize. Before we got married he told me that he doesn’t believe in apologizing. And he doesn’t. Nor will he. And I know that. But I still wanted it.

So now what? What happens when I feel like I need something, but I know I will not get what it is I want? Am I like the bird, constantly throwing myself against an immovable object? I must be, because I know I can’t win. Yet I still try. And I know that the only one who gets hurt in the process is me.

Fighting Others, or Fighting Myself

But I feel so strongly that I need to defend my core, my rights and my integrity that I keep fighting.

To my own detriment, because what I’m really fighting is my own reflection, not my spouse.

I’m fighting my own history of putting myself last, of willingly taking the short end of stick, but I’m not fighting him. His behavior brings out my frustrations with me, and my inability to take what I need, to put myself first. I know where he stands, and I always have.

And so I finally see. There is no other bird there. It’s only just me.

Unconscious or Subconscious: Does it Matter? || Mary Coday Edwards

Unconscious or subconscious: Does it matter?

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

 

Two words often bantered about with imprecision, we do well when speaking of our own spirituality to use clarity when venturing into these underground realms.

As a word person, my first stop on this journey of exploration is a dictionary (1).

First coined by French psychologist and philosopher Pierre Janet in the early 1900s, the subconscious is defined as that part of our mind that is currently not in focused awareness.

Unfortunately for the majority of us, it’s impossible to hold the bulk of what we experience with concentrated attention, and therefore it’s spirited into the subconscious, to perhaps later be retrieved.

For example, you may be hiking along a forest trail in deep conversation with a friend. Later, sitting on a sun-warmed boulder, lunching on your peanut butter sandwich, your friend remarks on those wildflowers  bedecking the wilderness floor passed by earlier, at which point your mind might recall the blue sea of columbines that at the time registered with your visual sense – but without conscious focus.

Past-learned skills also find their way into the subconscious.

In every country I’ve lived or worked, I struggled to learn the local language and/or dialect, measuring success by how accurately I could buy peanuts from the shopkeeper in the bazaar.

Grocery shopping, Kabul, Afghanistan; April, 2007

And although I’ve been back in the States for a few years, these languages still surface in my dreams. People I knew then show up, conversing in their native tongue – sometimes I have two different language conversations occurring in the same dream and while my dream self understands both parts of the dialog, my dream characters do not.

“I never know when somebody’s going to knock on the door of my own unconscious in a way that I wouldn’t have anticipated.” Anna Deavere Smith, Actress, Playwright, Professor

Said to be contributed by 18th century philosopher Friedrich Schelling, Freud took the word unconscious and divided it into the id (instincts or drives) and the superego – sometimes referred to as the conscience.  He regarded the unconscious as a storehouse of repressed socially unacceptable desires, wishes, and ideas, as well as painful memories and emotions. The key concept here is repressed, and thus not easily accessible to our day-to-day operations of living but yet exerting their influence upon our behavior.

Carl Jung retained Freud’s notion of the unconscious mind as the storehouse of repression, but added another stratum called the collective unconscious, which is a reservoir of unconscious memories that we inherited from our ancestors. From this collective unconscious arise other of Jung’s concepts, such as archetypes, anima, and animus (topics not addressed in this blog).

“I think unconscious bias is one of the hardest things to get at.” U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

While the material stored in the subconscious can be recalled with deliberation and effort, that which sits in the murky regions of the unconscious is, generally speaking, not accessible through one’s own self or one’s efforts via the ego (2).

And ego, in today’s language milieu and simplistically speaking, is that part of our mind that mediates between the conscious and the unconscious. It keeps us safe from what might be deemed unacceptable to our parents, teachers, or peers. Long after it’s done its job, the ego still maintains its habit of refusing questions and killing curiosity – required steps in growth of consciousness.

Transformation and personal growth require that our unconsciously driven behaviors be brought to the light of consciousness. We learn to watch for and respond to unconscious stress signals vs. reacting with fight or flight.

Unfortunately, ego’s very good at convincing its host that what it believes/thinks/wants is the ultimate and only truth or reality. Mindfulness and mediation practices reveal our ego’s dictatorial bent and personal bias.

A dream is a small hidden door in the deepest and most intimate sanctum of the soul, which opens up to that primeval cosmic night that was the soul, long before there was the conscious ego.” Carl Jung

My above-noted dream scenario serves as an example of both the subconscious and the unconscious at work.

Symbology is one of the many tools our unconscious uses to get our attention, with dreams being a conduit to consciousness.  Without going into dream interpretation, my unconscious took my subconscious material – foreign languages – and turned it into a symbol representing a lack of communication between parts of me, which I then can explore.

But first I must consciously address my ego who is right there upon my awakening, insisting I ignore this gift of a dream from my psyche. “We have more important things to attend to!” it insists.

Honoring all parts of myself – after all, the ego did keep me safe – I remind if gratefully and compassionately of its past and current job descriptions.  I tell it that when other bits of me are ignored, denied participation in the conversation, or left to die in a neglected corner of my soul, I incur stress which brings sickness, disease, and an early death – not a hopeful outcome for ego.

Through mindfulness practices, we watch attentively for emerging unconscious behaviors, beliefs, and values which come knocking on our door.

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

_______

Notes & Sources:

1.) Psychology Glossary, https://www.alleydog.com/glossary/psychology-glossary.php

2.) In my early teens I asked my mother what the term “male ego” meant, a popular phrase in those days, usually with the word “fragile” attached to it. She refused to discuss it, which sent me to the dictionary – not finding it of course, and “ego” with its 10-15 word definition did not do the word justice to my teen brain. I perceived uncomfortable emotions attached to her refusal – correctly or incorrectly – and so did not risk pursuing the topic further with other adults.

_______

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:

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

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

By Dorothy Wallis

You are a marvel of extraordinary creativity.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: Lora Cheadle

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

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

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

Connecting to the Past and the Future

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

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

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

The Fallacy that “Staying Present” Leads to Peace

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

I once heard a former prisoner of war speak.

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

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

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

Disconnecting from the Present Moment Preserves Sanity

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

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

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

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

Mindfully Unmindful

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

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


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

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

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

Bumping into the Lost Parts of You

By Rev. Mary Coday Edwards, MA.

April 4, 2017

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fitting into the box of conformity

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Wake up!” it’s telling us.

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

The Sacred Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

_______                                                                              

Notes & Sources:

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

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

________

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:

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.


How Emotions Affect the Body || Lora Cheadle

The Mind/Body Connection of How Emotions Affect the Body

By: Lora Cheadle

Our bodies and our minds are endlessly adaptable. There is quite literally an endless variety of adaptations that our bodies and our minds can make, allowing us to survive in even the harshest of mental or physical circumstances. Although this ability is useful in a wide variety of circumstances, it also the reason that emotions can get stuck in our bodies, negatively impacting our health as well as our mental well-being.

Physical and Emotional Traumas Both Have Physical Manifestations

When we break a leg, and are in a full leg cast for an extended period of time, our bodies adapt to the gait and manner of walking with one leg straight. Remove the cast, and for the first several days it’s difficult to walk normally again. Our physical body adapted. Without mirrors, physical therapy or the conscious desire to return to a normal gait, our limp might remain permanent, even though there is no physical reason to maintain the straight-legged gait.

The same is true with physical patterning with regard to emotion. Different emotions result in different physical posturing, and our body language changes depending on the emotions we are experiencing. Unlike a limp however, emotions are not tangible. We cannot simply look in a mirror and see where we are holding emotion in our bodies. Therefore, it can be difficult to identify and release the emotions that are unnecessarily being held in our bodies.

But just like the resulting limp from a broken leg, unnecessarily holding emotions in the body can be just as debilitating. Whether we call it baggage, triggers or psychological damage, emotional experiences impact our physical bodies. Since emotions cannot exist outside of the body, the only way to hold or express emotions, is through the body!

How Emotions Get Stuck in the Body

Think about your own body posturing when you are trying not to be noticed. Have you ever worn the wrong type of clothing to an event? Been awkwardly taller than those around you? Had a blouse that kept gaping open or a zipper that kept sliding down? Chances are, in an attempt to not be noticed, your body posturing changed. Perhaps you slouched, pulled your shoulders up and forward or hung and head. Maybe you presented the side of your body instead of meeting people head on, kept your arms crossed over your chest or literally tried to make your body compact, and smaller than it was.

Our feelings of embarrassment, nervousness, or our desire not to be noticed manifested in our bodies, in the form of tension in the shoulders, neck or chest, due to slouching, or pain in the knees, ankles or feet, due to slight squatting and keeping the body turned sideways. Our physicality reflected what was happening on an emotional level.

Over time, our bodies can get stuck in a variety of emotional holding patterns. Just like the limp from wearing as cast too long, we can slump, slouch, squat or protect out of habit, even when there is no longer an emotional reason to do so.

Emotional Holding Patterns That Cause Physical Symptoms

Take the case of long-time caregivers, who often have the tendency to slouch. Whether it’s from holding babies or from leaning over beds to check on patients, the emotions of nurturing, protecting, care and concern become synonymous with stooped posture. Over time, whenever those caregiver feel the same emotions they feel when checking ono patients or children, the physical patterning of slouching follows suit. The emotions literally get stuck in the body’s muscles.

Although the caregiver might have enough strength and flexibility to physically stand up straight, on an emotional level, standing up straight is as emotionally threatening as asking that caregiver to stop feeling emotions of nurturing, care or concern.

How to Release Stuck Emotions From the Body

A good way to begin untangling the emotions from the body is to start noticing your body in a variety of situations. At home, at work, with friends or while you are alone. Notice how your body feels when you experience different emotions. Begin to see the correlation between your body’s posturing and your emotional state.

Notice what you feeling and where. Is it tension in the neck, back or shoulders? Is it a holding in your stomach or a gripping with your thighs? Do you have a pain in your foot, difficulty breathing, or clenching in your jaw or fists? Is there an obvious physical posture that is causing this tightness or sensation, such as slouching, leaning, gripping or holding?

Identifying both the emotion as well as the posture is the key. After identifying the emotion, analyze whether this emotion is currently present in your world today, possibly necessitating the physical posturing, or whether this patterning is a holdover from a past situation.

Sometimes simply recognizing holdover behavior is enough to release it. Other times, deeper psychological work may be necessary. In either event, one of the most effective ways to deal with physical patterning that is the result of an emotional issue, is to do this 30 second meditation.

Take a few deep breaths. As you are breathing, focus on feeling your body both physically as well as emotionally. Focus on aligning, straightening, expanding and opening your body. Feel like you are stacking your bones, one on top of the other, and that they are so perfectly balanced, you no longer need any muscular tension in order to keep your bones in place. Relax your muscles and breathe.

Focus on your emotional state. Gently let any stressful or negative emotions either float up, and out your body, or drain down, and out of your body. If you know the emotional trigger that caused your tension, affirm to yourself that that situation is in the past, and can no longer impacts you, or your body any longer. If you are not aware of your trigger, affirm for yourself that even though you are not aware of the root cause of your tension, you still unconditionally love and accept yourself. Affirm that from this point forward, you are no longer impacted by that, which in the past, caused you to hold tension or emotion in your physical body.

Take one more breath, imagining, visualizing or pretending that both your physical body and your emotions are uniting in a place of unity, peace, resilience and healthy harmony.

And so it is!


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!

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

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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:

 

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Conscious Relationship and the Three Dimensions of Caring || Dorothy Wallis

Conscious Relationship and the Three Dimensions of Caring

By: Dorothy Wallis

Conscious Companionship

As the consciousness of humanity evolves and changes so has the structure of marriage, partnership and relationships.  We are in a transitional stage of relationship moving away from the concept of two independent autonomous people cohabiting together and attempting to get their individual needs met in a hierarchical structure with fixed roles.  A companionship model of conscious partnership consisting of mutual interdependence, interpersonal relating, intimacy, equity and commitment to placing the relationship first while aligning with what is best for each other is arising.  The focus away from a singular insular preoccupation with self and my needs to what are the needs of the relationship is a step towards greater love, compatibility, understanding, intimacy, and surprisingly getting more of your needs met.

Intuitively you know that you are not an island.  As much as you were taught that independence and self-sufficiency were the mark of maturity, what you discover is that it is simply a phase on the way to a deeper level of learning about yourself and how to love.  An important phase for sure, but development does not end with self-interest.  No matter how self-sufficient you create your life to be, you are always dependent on other people for more than mere survival.  As your basic needs are met your need for intimacy, connection and sharing take the forefront.  You seek relationship with others.  You seek a greater depth of love.
 
Falling in love is a magical experience.  It directs your attention to another; you begin to care about someone other than yourself.  You open up and share your thoughts, feelings, and interests.  Caring and sharing with mutual reliance on each other seems easy at this stage.  Keeping this level of interest and caring is often challenging. 
 
What happened to us?  The Zing, the Romance, the Pizzazz is gone!
It makes sense that the first blush of all encompassing love must end.  No one can keep that level of exclusive attention.  It wouldn’t serve you or your relationship.  What does not need to be forgotten is your level of Caring for your partner.  Once the courtship is over, your zeal to find meaning, purpose, and promote your individual needs and desires focuses your attention back on the self.  Career, children and the usual demands of everyday life may find you leading an independent and parallel existence without much connection to your partner.  You end up feeling bereft of intimacy and caring.

 

“Participating in Caring behaviors with Attuned Presence and Concern is a vital component to Sustain a Conscious Growing Relationship”

 

Participation and Presence
Relationships get into trouble when there is a lack of caring.  Studies of couples in therapy revealed a disquieting commonality; dissatisfied couples expressed the belief that their partner loved them while at the same time not feeling deeply cared about.  Without the feeling of being cared about discontentment increases with the likelihood of conflict, resentment, distance and separation.  In this day and age relationship requires participation and presence. 
 
Caring Relationships Heal Childhood Wounds 
Caring is the act of displaying kindness and concern for another.  Caring presence accords a special focus of attention on your partner that expresses they are of primary importance to you.  When you have someone you can rely upon, who understands you, accepts you just as you are, supports your highest aspirations while demonstrating affection and nurturing, you are able to move into the world securely.  Being nurtured opens up neural pathways and heals toxic emotional childhood wounds.  A caring relationship is the soothing tonic that restores secure attachment.
 
Three Dimensions of Caring:  Putting the Zing back into Your Relationship
In their research, Paul and Evelyn Moschetta identified three dimensions of caring that are vitally important to maintain a healthy, growing, mutually satisfying and loving relationshipThose dimensions are Sustenance Caring, Intentional Caring, and Reverential Caring.

Sustenance Caring

“The kind of caring that supplies the emotional necessities of life; nurturing, supporting and strengthening the other.  Sustenance caring cannot be known on an intellectual level only; it must be a felt experience as well. Study subjects said that receiving sustenance caring left them feeling loved, “warm” inside, happy, sexually responsive, stable, secure, trusting, capable of facing problems, capable of reaching out to others.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta

Being present, attentive to the needs of your partner, and displaying affection feeds and nurtures their emotional well-being.  Sustenance caring requires action and empathic attunement creating a foundation of safety and trust.  Your relationship is the blending into One.  Treating your relationship as a sacred form keeps it alive and growing.  It creates a safe, secure container for each of you to be free to explore your full potential.  And…who reaps the greatest benefit from giving your partner tender loving Care?  You do!  People in secure connected relationships are healthier, have less stress, are happier and feel more fulfilled. 
 
Helpful Actions to give Sustenance Caring to Your Partner:

  • Be present and attentive to the needs of your partner
  • Be generous with your time; your partner comes first over others
  • Be available in times of need
  • Give frequent displays of affection both physically and verbally; give hugs and gentle touch
  • Be aware and attuned to your partner’s moods
  • Demonstrate trust, generosity and unselfish concern for your partner
  • Be genuinely interested and involved in your partner’s life
  • Be an expert on your partner; learn what soothes and pleases them

Behaviors and actions that undermine Sustenance Caring:

  • Not sharing your deeper feelings and thoughts
  • Shutting out your partner by withdrawing, ignoring them or neglecting their thoughts, feelings, and presence
  • Not showing physical or verbal affection
  • Lack of attunement to their moods and emotional needs
  • A big No…Flirting and emotional intimacy with someone other than your partner (rule of thumb: any conversation or behavior that may hurt your partner if they heard or saw you…is off the table)
  • Hiding or keeping secrets that have an impact on the relationship: health, finances, affairs, travel arrangements, purchases etc.

Intentional Caring:

“Takes the form of actions purposefully undertaken to help one’s partner grow.  It is the expression of a commitment to foster growth, and conveys a deep interest in the other’s full use of talents, capabilities, and potentials.  Study subjects reported that receiving Intentional caring left them feeling courageous, unafraid, more adequate, liberated, more adult, able to invest oneself, capable of doing a great deal, capable of fulfilling potentials.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta

Helpful actions to give Intentional Caring to Your Partner:

  • Be interested in your partner’s ideas and pursuits
  • Be your partner’s advocate, promote and champion their direction of growth and interests
  • Appreciate their talents, capabilities and potential
  • Encourage and assist your partner when challenges arise  
  • Be cooperative and flexible
  • Be willing to share responsibilities
  • Maximize growth opportunities for your partner
  • Be willing to let them know when they are going in a direction that is potentially harmful to them: health, financial, with other people etc.

 
Behaviors and actions that undermine Intentional Caring:

  • Undermining your partner’s confidence
  • Lecturing and parenting your partner
  • Sabotaging or subverting your partner’s dreams
  • Enabling and co-dependent behaviors
  • Controlling your partner
  • Blaming your partner rather than listening and finding solutions or requesting amends

 
Reverential Caring:

“Means valuing the other’s individuality, holding them in high esteem and making them a top priority.  It means having intense interest and admiration for the other.  Reverential caring conveys an acceptance of one’s partner as he or she actually is without illusions, or preconceived or accumulated images.  Study subjects reported that receiving reverential caring left them feeling important, valued, wanted, worthwhile, free to be oneself, capable of seeing one’s shortcomings, accepting of oneself, proud, grateful, fortunate.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta

Helpful actions to give Reverential Caring to Your Partner:

  • Always make your partner Number 1 in your eyes; say and do things to remind your partner that they are tops with you
  • Establish each other as your primary ‘Go to Person’
  • Treat your partner as an equal, neither below you or above you
  • Accept your partner just the way they are with all of their foibles and idiosyncrasies
  • Value and freely appreciate your partner’s abilities
  • Have your partner’s back especially in the company of others; this means supporting your partner even if you do not agree (express your opinion in private)  

Behaviors and actions that undermine Reverential Caring:

  • Criticizing your partner
  • Demanding perfection
  • Ridiculing, berating, belittling or shaming your partner (if joking means making fun of your partner, it is demeaning and will cause hurt and resentment)
  • Embarrassing your partner with your words or actions
  • Disrespecting or diminishing the worth of your partner
  • Dominating your partner

Caring is a day-to-day and moment-by-moment opportunity to create a long-lasting intimate and joy filled relationship.  Loving energy directed toward your relationship is life enhancing and brings the greatest reward, which is learning how to give and receive love.  

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:

The Truth About Your Emotions || Dorothy Wallis

The Truth About Your Emotions

By Dorothy Wallis

 

You have been told stories about your emotions that are not true.  I do not wish to call them lies because for the most part these “untruths” were unintentional.  These falsehoods have led to more suffering and pain.  They have kept you from connecting to yourself, your inner guidance and your heart. 

You have been told that some emotions are “good” and other emotions are “bad.”  You have been told to control some of them or to not feel some of them.  A name has been given to the emotions that are unwanted; they are called “negative or afflictive.”  Who would not want to push away something that is negative or afflictive?  By calling them a derogatory name, you are automatically judging those emotions as something not wanted and not valuable.

You have been taught many ways that seem harmless to push away, ignore or get rid of these emotions and yet these ways are disconnecting you from yourself. 

They are disconnecting you from your inner guidance and your ability to navigate this reality.  Instead of empowering you, some of the more benign techniques teach you how to “manage” your emotions, not connect with them.  At the worst, the methods taught are controlling and shaming.  You end up feeling that something is wrong with you for having powerful emotions. 

Unfelt emotions gather, build up inside of you and grow.  Eventually they expand into a swirling mass of unexpressed energy.  The pressure builds, shakes, rumbles and bubbles up to the surface.  Each time the unwanted bits that you don’t want to feel come up, you think, “I don’t like that, it makes me feel awful.  How can I get rid of it?”  You focus on the “goal” of eliminating it.  You may judge the emotion, shove it back down, pretend it doesn’t exist, distract your attention away from it, cover it over with a more “positive” feeling, project it onto someone or something else, or shame yourself for having it or not being able to get rid of it.  None of these methods actually change anything or bring you sustained relief.

Have you ever wondered why you have emotions that do not “feel” good?  There is a long history of demonizing these emotions.  These are seen as bad or even evil and if these emotions arise within you, you are then thought to be bad for having them.  Anger and depression are ones that top the “shameful” list.  If you believe that being angry or depressed means you are a bad or disturbed person then you are not going to want to feel or admit experiencing those states nor will you be willing to go deeper into them to understand or find out what those states are telling you.

In my experience with clients, anxiety is a monumental concern for most people.  Research affirms that prolonged chronic anxiety and stress can compromise the immune system.  Naturally, people want to be healthy and so assume that all anxiety and stress is detrimental and therefore seek to eliminate it.  There is a huge focus on getting “relief” from anxiety and stress in our culture and an entire industry aimed at ways to eradicate it.  Did you know that there is healthy stress?  Short-term anxiety and stress gives the body a physiological boost in energy providing mental alertness, increased performance in tasks, enhances creativity and motivation, and actually elevates the immune system.  Moderate exercise is a prime example of stressing the body, which increases circulation, muscle mass and performance. 

Moderate constructive stress reduces chronic stress. 

What is Happening to Your Thoughts?

Much of the adverse reaction you have when experiencing feelings comes from the belief that some emotions are negative, bad, or not normal.  You may not have realized how much your experience of emotions is influenced by your judgment and thoughts about them.  As soon as you begin to sense a “negative” emotion arising, your habitual response to it will execute.  You automatically resist being present to the actual physical sensations and feelings.  Thinking that the emotion is “bad” is an action of resistance.  You are pushing against the energy and the intensity of the sensation amplifies, strengthens and endures. The physical sensations of stress are the same whether you perceive them as negative or positive.  When you experience them as positive, you don’t resist the sensations.  You actually enjoy feeling them. 

Take a moment to feel the sensations of anticipation and anxiousness.  What is the difference?  Notice how the physical sensations of both are the same.  The difference happens in your mind and the way it interprets the experience.  When you feel positive anticipation your thoughts are filled with happy future outcomes and the giddy, jumpy sensations in your body are received with pleasure.  When you anticipate a negative future, you perceive it as anxiousness.  Your mind recalls every conceivable past memory and experience that did not work out the way you wanted or you imagine how terrible it could be.  You mind is showered with a deluge of thoughts and races between a series of bad outcomes.  You automatically retract and push against a dreaded future.  The sensations inside of your stomach and brain now become uncomfortable or even perceived as repulsive with the resistance.  As you dwell on these thoughts, the physical sensations escalate and can turn into actual physical illness.  The meaning you give an experience is derived from the mind.  Thoughts, judgments and beliefs influence your perception and alter the actual reality. 

Your Mind Cannot be Trusted

If you are in immanent danger your reactions are swift.  You don’t have time to think.  Your instinctual gut response of self-preservation takes over.  Most of the time, we are not in immediate physical danger.  In the present moment, you are experiencing something that has never happened before.  It may look or feel similar and this is when the memory bank of the past comes forward to advise you.  Past experiences and memory do not convey the truth; they only provide partial and limited information and an idea of what may be true.  Memory is not reliable nor is it accurate.  Each experience you have is flavored by your beliefs.  Furthermore, each time you retrieve a memory it is altered even if slightly.  The past can inform but never totally assess the present moment or decide the future.  If you only base your response on thoughts, you are missing out on the wisdom that your body, emotions and inner guidance offers in the present.

Why Some Emotions don’t’ Feel Good

An emotional response is often triggered when a current experience resembles a past one.  The emotion is a vibratory impulse of awareness.  The emotions that are annoying, disturbing, frustrating, distressful and painful are the ones that are warning you and sending you a message that you need to pay attention, be alert and aware of what is happening around you.  It may be something that is happening in your external environment or reality or in your internal reality.  The energy is expanding your awareness and altering your physiology toward action or inaction and offering a conscious perception we call feeling so that you can determine what to do, not do or integrate an important experience.

Your Emotional Sensory System is a Powerful Resource

The Truth about emotions is that they are ALL purposeful and very powerful.  Emotions are not some defective malfunction of your body.  Your body is a finely tuned efficient creation.  Your emotions are part of a highly developed sensory system created to navigate and experience earthly reality.  The vibrations of feeling and sensation offer unseen knowledge.  At the deepest level emotions guide you toward your highest good.

Your five senses, vision, touch, hearing, smell, and taste, take in a wealth of information.  Another organ, the heart, is constantly scanning the inner and outer environment with an enormous electro-magnetic field.  Heart Math research has found that the electrical field of the heart is 60 times greater than the electrical field of the brain and the magnetic field is 5,000 times greater than the magnetic field of the brain.  Emotions, through the exquisite vibration of feeling, transmit this sensory information to every cell of your body.  By not feeling your emotions you are casting aside a treasure trove of knowledge.

Use all of your resources.  Instead of negating your emotions, pay attention to your emotions and allow yourself to welcome the bodily sensations, you will come to know and love the incredible guidance the emotional sensory system offers.

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.

Predestination, Fate and God’s Will vs. Free-Will || Lora Cheadle

Predestination, Fate and God’s Will vs. Free-Will 

By Lora Cheadle

      One of the questions asked by humans throughout time is whether we have free-will and are in control of our own destiny, or if our lives are predestined by some higher authority and we have no choice except to live out what’s been planned for us. Whether we call it fate, God’s will or destiny, the question remains; are we in charge of our own lives?

Regardless of what we believe, when we are faced with challenging situations, or when we have big decisions to make in our lives, we want to feel like we are making the right decision. But maybe our decisions don’t matter all that much? Or maybe they do.

The Free-Will to Make Decisions

When challenges happen, people seek out the guidance of friends, counselors, religious leaders or even psychics or other types of intuitive readers. When we seek the advice of others, we are attempting to gain clarity on the future, learn from the experience of others, figure out what action we should take in the present and reassure ourselves that what we are about to do makes sense to someone besides our self.

As someone who does both Angel Readings as well as more traditional therapy, I have a unique perspective because I get to see the interplay between free-will and predestination. The way I see it, life is a beautiful combination of both free-will and destiny, with some decisions being impactful, some decisions having no bearing on the outcome of a life and some decisions veering us to an alternative, but equally correct, path.

Destiny

Think of predestination like this. Pick a generic story that everyone knows, maybe a fairy tale like The Three Bears. When everyone roughly knows the story line, it is possible for a group of actors to stand up and successfully act out the play. Sure, some things are going to get messed up, the story may go off track for a while, but since everyone knows the story, everyone will work to get it back on track whenever things fall apart.

At the end of the day it won’t matter if Goldilocks sat in the chair first, ate the porridge first or slept in the wrong bed. The story still gets told and everything that was crucial to the story line took place.

If we believe in destiny, or fate, then this is a good way to view our lives. We can think of our life as having a general structure, and we can see how there are a large number of small decisions that that really don’t impact the overall trajectory of our lives. Just like the actors above, We will be nudged back on track whenever we go too far off script.

Free-Will

Think of free-will like this. If you put a group of actors on a stage without a script or a story line, and ask them to act out a story, It will take everyone a while to figure out what is happening. Everyone has to work together until a common theme is established and agreed upon. If one person fails to get on board with the others, his actions alone cause random, unanticipated upheavals leading the story awry and forcing everyone else to adapt.

Whether these adaptations serve to bring the rogue actor back in line in or force the others to create an entirely new story line, at the end of the day, a story is still successfully told. And most importantly, sometimes the most brilliant and beautiful stories are the unanticipated ones, that are created out of something wholly unanticipated and unexpected.

If we believe in free-will, we may have more control over our life in some sense, but we are still subjected to the outside forces of others, and we still made to deal with many unanticipated situations, causing us to sometimes follow paths that are not of our choosing.

The Interplay between Free-Will and Destiny

No matter what we believe, it’s the combination of following the predestined story line and exercising our own free-will that makes life juicy, interesting and fun! Without both free-will and destiny, life is either be too try or too wild. Life is meant to be lived, and it’s the combination of conscious choices and happenstance that makes it worth living!

If we take “Job A” when “Job B” was the predestined better choice, all is not lost, we adapt! We work with each other to get back on track or we create a new and different track that is satisfying to everyone involved, and our story still gets told.

Making wrong decisions happens to everyone, and surprisingly, is not that big of a deal. As long as we stay present and involved, listening to our intuition and staying conscious, we cannot make a mistakes. Sure, our final story may be different than our original story, but whose to say this new conclusion wasn’t the predestined better choice to begin with?

Let Your Intuition be Your Guide

One of the keys to staying conscious is listening to our intuition. Our intuition is like an ever-present narrator, narrating our story, helping us stay on track and nudging us back in the right direction when things get too far off track. Sure, discussing our problems with friends or going to a counselor or intuitive is helpful, but we are all equipped with our own sense of intuition.

Intuitive Readings focus on the energy of a particular person or situation as it stands in the present moment. People incorrectly assume psychic readers are able to “see into the future” or “know” what is going to happen, but this couldn’t be further from the truth! All intuitive readers do is use their intuition to tune into your intuition and to tell you what you are feeling!

Truthfully, I feel like my job as an intuitive as well as a more traditional therapist is ask the right questions and to reflect back to my clients confirm what they already know.

As complicated as it may sound, understanding the interplay of free-will and destiny is pretty simple. Let your internal narrator guide you along, try, listen, feel, remain conscious and reach out for help whenever you need it. But ultimately, trust your own heart and remember that no matter what happens, the story of your life will still reach a successful conclusion, and it doesn’t matter if that conclusion was predetermined or self created.

All you have to do is do what Goldilocks did keep on trying things until you find thing that fit “Just right!”

 


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!

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:

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Golden Rules of Respectful Behavior || Dorothy Wallis

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: The Golden Rules of Respectful Behavior

By Dorothy Wallis

manners

It may seem old fashioned in this day and age to be polite.  If you want to have friends, be liked and create a fabulous first impression, it makes sense to acquire courteous and respectful behaviors.  More importantly, it is a matter of safety.  Civility has become a societal problem.  The public affairs firm, Powell Tate and KRC Research found that 95% of Americans say that civility is a serious problem with 86% of Americans reporting they have been victims of incivility.  Most of these encounters with disrespectful behavior have been while doing the normal everyday activities of driving or shopping.  Cyber bullying is on the rise as well as hostile and disturbing comments on social media sites.  Anonymity has reduced responsibility.  We are sliding into a culture where nasty, rude, intimidating, and hateful behavior is seen as “normal.”  It is anything but “normal.”  This lack of civility, care and regard for others is destructive and damaging to the well-being of every citizen and especially the young who model their elders.

 

Returning to respectful behavior is good for society and good for your own well-being.  Being respectful, polite and having good manners creates harmonious relationships and connections. We all enjoy people that make us feel seen and heard.  When people are interested in your opinions and interests, you feel valued and accepted.  When people pay attention to making you comfortable and safe, and respect your personal space and possessions, you feel their care.  A person who offers generous doses of kindness and consideration is likable, attractive and more successful in life.

The Golden Rule of Respectful Behavior is treating other people with Dignity, Consideration and Loving Kindness, and to treat Yourself with the same Regard.

 

We can do our part to turn around the demise of civility by being an example of respect.  The small and seemingly inconsequential “niceties” make a difference. The Prime Question to ask yourself is: 
What affect is my Behavior having on the Experience of those around Me? 
If you are unsure of what is appropriate or acceptable behavior be aware of the reactions and responses of the people around you.  Watch their body and facial language for cues.  Are you being excluded in some way?  Are you invited back to social gatherings?  On the flip side, how do you feel about the behavior of the company you keep?  Do they act in ways that make you feel good or not?
 
The Basics of Common Courtesy, Respect and Good Manners:

The Good: 

  • Always use Please, Thank You and You’re Welcome.
  • Be friendly and helpful; Greet people with a smile.
  • Listen attentively with curiosity, be sincerely interested in others; be considerate of other’s opinions.
  • Be generous with praise and celebrate other’s successes and accomplishments.
  • Apologize when you have made a mistake.
  • Respect people’s personal space and belongings.
  • Be Kind and Considerate; treat people with dignity.
  • Do good deeds without needing anything in return.

The Bad:  None of these actions are endearing or will create harmony.  They push people away.

  • Ignoring when someone is talking to you; silencing, looking the other way, walking away, not making eye contact or rolling your eyes
  • Interrupting (because you want to make your point or you think you already know what they are going to say)
  • Not helping someone when you have the opportunity.
  • Lack of consideration for others disabilities and frailties.
  • Using personal property without asking.
  • Invading someone’s personal space or imposing on him or her.
  • Staring or pointing at someone.
  • Asking personal or inappropriate questions; prying.
  • Gossiping is mean.
  • Profanity (It shows a lack of respect for yourself as well as others.  Tame your tongue and increase your vocabulary)
  • Being consistently Late (It is disrespectful of other people’s time.)
  • Cutting in line or not allowing a person with 1 or 2 items at the grocery store go in front of you.
  • Promoting your own agenda; pushing your opinions, bragging, or only talking about yourself

The Ugly:  These behaviors move into the abusive category and are Boundary Violations.

  • Humiliating, embarrassing, ridiculing or shaming a person.
  • Harsh criticism, insults or demeaning others.
  • Infringing on the rights of others.
  • Dishonesty.
  • Touching without permission.
  • Blaming, manipulating, belligerence, sarcasm and hostility.
  • Exposing others to illness or physical injury.
  • Patronizing; treating someone as “Less than.”
  • Calling people names: stupid, idiot, asshole, bitch, weakling, etc.
  • Yelling and screaming.
  • Gaslighting: spinning information to make someone doubt their own perception
  • Dismissive & Condescending Remarks: What NOT to say
    • You are too sensitive, you’re overreacting
    • Not now, maybe later, don’t worry about it
    • Don’t be that way
    • Calm down, relax, chill, don’t panic
    • It doesn’t matter, get over it, there’s nothing to be done about it
    • What’s your point?
    • I hear you (repeatedly)…yeah, I heard that
    • Not this again…let’s move on….let it go
    • Who knows, who cares?
    • Get used to it

Cell Phones and Electronics
The Good:  Cell phones and computers allow ease and almost instant communication and access to information.  They connect us to our global community.

The Bad:  Looking at a screen or listening to a voice does not provide physical face-to-face connection.  It is rude to ignore the person sitting in front of you and focus your attention on your phone or computer.

  • No Texting, browsing or monitoring your cell phone or computer when you are at the dinner table or engaged in a conversation or an activity with another person.  Turn off or silence your cell phone at restaurants, theaters and events. 
  • Do Not Talk loudly on your Cell Phone in public.  Do you really want everyone to hear?
  • Walking with your Cell phone and ignoring everything around you.

The Ugly:

  • Texting while Driving is Dangerous!  Don’t do it.

Driving
The Good:  Good driving habits offer safety and happy outings.  By obeying these rules you avoid bad outcomes.

  • Use your turn signals.
  • When stopped behind a vehicle see their back tires touching the road.
  • Be courteous instead of competitive when driving.
  • Leave for your destination with time to spare.
  • Watch out for bad drivers…drive defensively.
  • Don’t drive when tired.
  • Follow driving rules:  When you see a yellow light it means caution.  Don’t speed up to go through it, stop when you can.
  • Wear your seat belt.

The Bad & The Ugly:  Absolutely Dangerous actions to Avoid

  • Texting while driving or other distractions.
  • Cutting people off.
  • Driving too fast (drive the speed limit in residential areas) Yeah, it’s not okay to go 5 miles over or more where children are playing and people are walking!
  • Driving slow in the passing lane (this is also not okay.)
  • Running red lights and not yielding the right of way.
  • Not stopping at crosswalks….Stopping at crosswalks Saves Lives.
  • Swerving in and out of traffic or other reckless driving.
  • Tailgating (following too close is an accident waiting to happen.)
  • Driving high…on alcohol or drugs.

Dining and Table Manners
The Good:  Dining with others is one of the most intimately important social moments in your life.  Having good table manners enhances relationship and is respectful.  People pay attention to table manners and form opinions about you.

  • Be sociable and converse at the table.  Being present with those you “break bread with” is an opportunity to strengthen bonds and connection; it is a time to share with one another.
  • Have gratitude for those that prepared the food and take pleasure in the food you eat; it increases endorphins creating a positive mood.  
  • Eat mindfully and slowly tasting every bite; it strengthens and builds the connecting networks in your brain.

The Bad:  Not following accepted dining protocols is inconsiderate and rude.

  • Do place your napkin in your lap and use it.
  • Do not begin to eat until everyone has been served.
  • No elbows on the table while you are eating…after the meal it is acceptable.
  • Do not fill up your plate with food; take moderate amounts.
  • When passed a dish, take one serving of food and make sure to leave enough for others.
  • Don’t leave the table during the meal without saying, “Excuse Me.”
  • Place your utensils together across your plate when you are finished with your meal.

The Ugly:
If you want to be invited back….Remember to Not:

  • Double dip your bread or chips into the shared sauce.  If you need more, use a clean spoon and place it on your plate.
  • Gobble your food down….do eat slowly.
  • Chew with your mouth open or speak with your mouth full.
  • Stuff your mouth full of food or take exceedingly large bites (it is gross to watch).
  • No Noisy eating, Slurping, burping, or licking your fingers.
  • Monopolize the conversation, talk loudly or over others; allow everyone a chance to talk.
  • Reach over others (ask to have something passed to you).
  • Take the last of anything without asking others.
  • Use a toothpick at the table (do this in private…no one wants to see the inside of your mouth).
  • Drink too much and become obnoxious.

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.

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.

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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/.

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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:

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.

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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.  

People House: a Center for Personal and Spiritual Growth