Getting Back to Basics

Fall is not normally the time that we think of as renewal – that is what we think of in the spring, or maybe the start of the new year.  But it is very clear to me that I have started a cycle of renewal, and it feels great.

Fall renewal

It feels as if I am loosening a number of chains that were tied around my shoulders.  It is easy to come up with that analogy, as most of my body work in massage is around my shoulders.  My massage therapist has suggested that it is as if I am carrying something and won’t let it go.  I think I am carrying a number of false beliefs, and as I see them as likely false, I am clinging to them for comfort and familiarity.  Then I am complaining because it hurts.

I have a few BIG life issues that have presented themselves, and I normally address big problems with big solutions – all based in my head, using intellect as the solution.  But the Universe, in its wisdom, has presented me with healing opportunities that cannot be solved by intellect alone.  They are emotional in nature, and require connection, clarity, and peace with my emotions and with my Self. Uh oh…

And in case I can’t see those clearly enough for myself, I have been supporting people who have analogous situations.  Can’t avoid looking in a mirror and seeing yourself, now can I?

So, my current homework is asking myself some basic questions: Who am I? How do I want to be? How do I want to be in relationships?  These are basic, fundamental questions, that are somewhat at the core to every person’s experience. And here I am, asking them of my self with surprisingly few answers.

Who am I? When am I my most authentic self? I was working on this with a friend, whose answers and perspective surprised me.  He told me he experienced me as my most authentic when I was trying something new.  He said I expressed myself in those situations with vulnerability and openness, speaking through my eyes and my heart.  He said I was less confident in those situations, and put on less of a persona at those times.  Interesting…

If I were to answer that question, I would have said it was when I am teaching.  I feel incredible energy, flow, and connection.  But I associate teaching with my head, not my heart.  As my friend probed the experience deeper, it was apparent that I surround each student in the room with love and compassion, and try to individualize the learning for each of them, to pull out their best potential. Huh!  Sounds like heart to me too.

I don’t have answers.  I have more questions.  And I feel a bit of apprehension because I think this is another one of those scenarios where I have been carrying around an image of myself, but it is not ME.  I so sincerely want to be seen, to be known for who I am, and yet I seem to have symbolically hidden behind a door that I am hoping will be opened. There are moments I feel confused, stuck, and scared.

On the other hand, I have a strong intuition that something truly amazing and remarkable in happening inside me.  I feel like I am beginning to wake up, to really live.  It feels pretty good as each link

Looking in the Mirror of Self

to the chain loosens, and falls to the ground.  So, while I go back to the basics about who I am, I am also going back to the basics of healing: I am practicing gratitude, journalling, and working with the chakras.  These were my practice 15 years ago, and here I am again.

Kundalini Dance – Loving Life!

I have recently become more interested in Tantric philosophy and yoga.  I have studied a number of related topics, like Reiki, yoga, and meditation, but something about this system calls me back.  I feel that it has a balance between the Divine Feminine and the Divine Masculine, where many other systems are silent on this.  For example, as much as I love much of Buddhism, there is an aspect of earthiness that is missing for me.  (And I am, of course, a “practical” priestess.)

I recognize that I am connected to and influenced by the earth elements.   A friend has teased me that it is impossible to get shoes on me – that I love to be barefoot outdoors, on the beach, in the grass (the irony is he also knows I am addicted to shoe shopping!).  But I resonate with the earth.  The feeling of mud, planting, harvesting…moving indoors into cooking and feeding…even the fibers I choose for my clothes all have an earthy influence.

On Friday, I went to a Kundalini Dance class.  In many ways, it was like a yoga class – we began by setting a heart space, declaring safety and respect for the individual.  Our work moved through each chakra, which is work I have done before.  What surprised me was how much MORE I was feeling by incorporating dance and movement into my work.

We were asked to observe and note what arises from our bodies as we moved.  I noticed that I had trouble spinning or moving to the left.  I naturally initiated each movement from my right side.  We were asked not to stay in one place, in one spot, in the room, and this request challenged me to move from comfortable patterns to a new place of awareness. And the left is the side of creativity and emotion.  I very easily work from a head space, but heart space is less practiced for me.

Chakras

Previously, I have done work sending a flow of energy from the perineum to the heart, and also flowing up to the crown chakra, so I knew I had a slower flow of energy around the sacral chakra.  Today, I feel my body moving itself to release that, and to show me the way I need to move to make that happen.  My right hip has always been stiffer than my left (in yoga, and in life), and today it is begging me, compelling me, to stretch it out.  I have not been able to create that same release simply through yoga or meditation.  It is the incorporation of dance and body awareness that has been missing in my practice.

One of  the challenges for me is that I tend to live in my head, in the realm of thought.  I can forget I have a body.  And my body shows that.  You can track the flow of energy in my body and literally see where it is sluggish and where it is active – and sometimes over active.  I set the intention earlier this year to be more connected to my body, and it is always exceptionally inspiring when I see my intent manifest.

I see the body work augmenting my mind work.  This weekend, as I ached a bit, I found myself emotionally moving back to old patterns and beliefs.  I was irritated with someone I am close to, and snapped at him.  Within minutes I had returned to harmony, and wanted to make amends.  In another case, I have been struggling to accept some patterns in a close relationship, and found my body rejecting the usual anxiety spiral that begins when my mind turns to those old patterns.  Yes, I needed the body work to reinforce what my soul already knew.

Today, I am so grateful that the universe conspired to fulfil my intent.  I feel more peaceful, content and conscious today than I have in a long time.  I feel a growing distance between my old patterns and beliefs.  And I know this was only the first class – OMG, watch out, my authentic self is gonna be amazingly present!

The orchid represents balance between earth and air to me, between head and body

Hope

I attended a beautiful funeral this week.  While I was sitting, reflecting on the celebration of this woman’s life and how she died, I realized two things: I need to do more work in preparation for death and dying, and hope is a cornerstone to my life.

There is an area of academic inquiry called Hope Studies.  The premise of this type of work is that hope has a significant influence on healing, and on the experiences of the healer and the healee.  There is research on the impact of hope on depression , chronic illness, and of course the idea of hopelessness is pivotal in suicide prevention.  But it is the exploration of hope at the personal level that has me intrigued at the moment.

I love hope.  I look for hope everywhere.  I am not talking about the “glass half full”  or looking for the silver lining type of mentality.  I truly find hope around every corner.  I can only live in the darkness of fear and hopelessness for about a second.  If I cannot nurture hope in a situation, I will bolt.  Even in grieving from the death of a loved one, I find that I turn my attention to new life.  When my grandmother died, I secretly wished my newly married sister would get pregnant so we could move into celebrating life.  I feel loss, grieve, and then focus on all the possibilities and potential that surrounds me.

Hope

One of the themes of the funeral was celebrating the grace and faith that the woman brought to her death.  As I imagined how I might handle my own death, a feeling of anxiety flooded me.  Where does hope fit in if you are dying?  Where is all the potential then?  And if I know anything about myself, it is that I do not like having possibilities narrowed.  Is that the source of my anxiety? What do I believe about potential outside of the material realm?

I suppose that I have become very accustomed to manifesting in the physical plane.  I have not developed a lot of my awareness in the spiritual realm to creation.  I can reach out and feel a greater love.  I can connect with a sense of divinity.   I know I can feel that sense of divine intelligence around me.  Heck, I see evidence of divine intelligence in every day stories.  Yesterday, a woman I met told me about the divine intelligence in the mathematical relationship between the layout of a rainforest, and the trees in the rainforest.  My Segway tour guide Pete told me about how turtles evolved into sea animals with flippers from tortoises, and tortoises have feet.  Now that tortoises are under threat of extinction, the turtles are evolving into land animals, replenishing the tortoises.  There are stories about the intelligence that exists in the universe everywhere.  (Take a look at the links on Quantum Consciousness on the side bar).

Unlike some of my other blogs, I don’t have an answer for what I am going to do with all of this.  I know that Buddhists believe that our life’s work is about preparing for death.  Another story I have heard about a very wise woman facing her death suggested that death is the ultimate lesson in trust and faith in divine intelligence.

I think I will begin looking at things (probably with my head) that are written about people who have had near death experiences.  Their stories fascinate me and push me to a place of calm.  I have recently volunteered for the Pilgrim’s Hospice board – and I suspect that was divinely guided because it is not my first choice of causes.  I tend to support children who are victims of abuse as a favored charity, so this is a bit unusual for me. And I honestly don’t know if I have the time for this board.  But, here I am anyway.

I also think that the answer to preparing for death is in continuing to know a higher consciousness – some surrender of sustaining the egoic identity, and becoming more attuned to a larger Consciousness.  Identifying more with my divinity than with my SELF.

And the sun will rise again

Dunno.  I will let you know how it goes.

Abundance

“Whatever we are waiting for – peace of mind, contentment, grace, the inner awareness of simple abundance – it will surely come to us, but only when we are ready to receive it with an open and grateful heart.”
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach

This weekend was a weekend of abundance.  Sort of a Thanksgiving weekend without the turkey.  It was also an exploration of the surprisingly limited way in which I view abundance.

Saturday I was able to do my favorite things – I went to the market, bought flowers, cooked, walked – basically basked in the day.  Sunday was just as great. I went for brunch, then took a Segway tour, followed by an afternoon of watching movies at home.  It was an amazingly abundant weekend.

Abundance, simple abundance

As I revelled in how wonderful I felt and how great the day was, I was also reflecting on my last counseling session. Why do I feel so great today and so lousy at counseling?  My current focus of healing is on the blockage I have around taking care of myself.  This comes from a long history of co-dependency, whereby I take care of others and hope wildly that someone will notice my needs and take care of me.  Sometimes this works.  Generally it does not.  So, my solution to stress and a long history of not having my needs met was binging.  I now have that under control, but I have not yet learned to express my needs with the knowledge that a) I deserve to have my needs met and b) I WILL have my needs met.

It occurred to me that while I have great physical abundance in my life, and that I have worked spiritually-mentally-emotionally to achieve that, I do not have EMOTIONAL abundance.  I have many things for which I am grateful – don’t get me wrong.  I may be blessed with some of the best friends in the world.  Certainly I am amazed by the gifts that each of my friendships brings to my life.  But when it comes to my deep relationships, I suddenly find myself in thoughts of “not good enough” or “this will end” or “I will never get what I want – why am I here?”

As a result, these false beliefs have piled up in my body.  It is no wonder that my body feels that it must hold tight to every calorie I put into it.  No wonder that I eat when I am not hungry, just in case I get hungry later and there isn’t time/space/opportunity to eat.  It is no wonder that every time I sit down to a meal, I feel like I have to eat it all because “I work hard, I deserve to eat incredible food so I had better eat treats to tell myself what a great job/good person I am”.  I resent the people in my life with whom I have a deep relationship for the times they take care of themselves.  I resent that they are taking care of themselves (thus leaving the “work” to me) or that they are taking care of themselves without me. Yes, as I say these out loud I understand that they  are false beliefs.  Views of scarcity, not abundance.

So, now what? I have learned that the first step for me in changing any false belief is a practice of gratitude and setting my intent in the right direction.  I know that will be my starting point.  Some of it, I may not even believe just yet, but it will grow the more I reflect with gratitude on my needs being met.

Today, I know that I am a whole person, safe and secure.  I express my needs openly, with vulnerability, and know that the universe will conspire to meet my every need. (Yours too!)

And so it is. 

Forgiveness: Ho’oponopono

Lately, I have had the Universe send me alot of messages about forgiveness.  I have had a few friends working on self forgiveness, and forgiveness is a big theme in my own life.  I have a few deep relationships that I have been unable to achieve the release of forgiveness around.  And I struggle to forgive myself too.
 
There is a Hawaiian ritual called Ho’oponopono.  According to Ancient Huna, “Ho’oponopono means to make right. Essentially, it means to make it right with the ancestors, or to make right with the people with whom you have relationships. We believe that the original purpose of Ho’oponopono was to correct the wrongs that had occurred in someone’s life including Hala (to miss the thing aimed for, or to err, to disobey) and Hewa (to go overboard or to do something to excess) which were illusions, and even ‘Ino (to do harm, implying to do harm to someone with hate in mind), even if accidental.” 

Ancient Huna symbol

Key phrases in this ritual are:
 
 
I Love You
I’m Sorry
Please Forgive Me
Thank You
 
As the articles say, this is not a process to be done with others without some guidance.  But it is an excellent practice for yourself.  So, I invite you to join me in doing this exercise, to heal yourself, your relationships, and to bring yourself to peace.
 
For myself, I invite you to know this with me:
 
I Love You.  I love myself for the good that I bring into every day.  For the ways that I try to serve others, and for the compassion I bring into my interactions with people.
 
I’m Sorry.  I am sorry for the times I have let my inner rage and pain spill into my relationships with people.  I am sorry for the times I have recognized I don’t want to be a particular way, and have not been able to move past that.  I am sorry for the times I have let old patterns play themselves out over and over again with others.
 
Please Forgive Me.  Forgive me for any pain I have caused.  Forgive me for not recognizing the way out of my old patterns.  Forgive me for the times I have not hit the mark I know I am capable of.
 
Thank you.  I am grateful for the self awareness to recognize these things in myself.  I am grateful for the deep relationships in my life that trigger my healing.  I am grateful for the deep relationships that surround me with love and acceptance and provide me with the next challenges I need to grow.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.  I am grateful for being able to see the true, whole, and divine soul I am reflected in those around me.
 
As I write these words, I feel a deep release in my mind, and I feel the breath move from my belly to my heart.  I feel at peace, and hopeful.

Light and love

 
My wish for you is to try this practice with me for the next week, and feel the freedom for yourself.
 
In Light and Love,
Gail
 
 
 

Transition

I hate good byes. I’m bad at them. Because of this, I have relationships in my life that probably should have ended a long time ago. I just couldn’t bring myself to be the one who said good bye.

Me and my daughter when she started daycare

My daughter started kindergarten this week. It gave me a great chance to observe  how I react to change. Everyday leading up to her last day of daycare, I found myself crying as I looked at the pictures of her growing up. We walked through the daycare, as I recalled the Toddler room with diapers, the preschool room where she learned to go potty, and the junior kindergarten where she learned about tadpoles and fire ants. I held my daughter each day as she acted out her fears about leaving daycare & going to big school.  And yet she adapted to big school, and I came to peace with this next part of her growing up. (Thank you to Ruth and Morag and Rhonda and Sandra and Jeff who showed me that this maternal feeling doesn’t change just because the child gets older – just the trigger does as they go to university, move away, go to high school, etc.)

Transition card

In the long run, I don’t think my problem is change. Honestly, I revel in change. I don’t like feeling stuck. I need to shift and stretch and grow.  No, it’s specific to the end of relationships.

My spiritual beliefs say our biggest issue is healing the false sense of separation from others and from the Divine. We are like water in an ocean – all part of it but you can take a drop out. It is the same as the ocean just different. Until it is back in the ocean. So somewhere in this lesson is facing my fear of separation.

I get choked up in movies where two people need to be apart for a higher purpose, or when people die – Philadelphia, Out of Africa, Anna and the King, Boys on the Side. I watch these when I need a good cry.

Transition is about the knowledge that all things change but that endings are just part of flowing into what is next. I think that my pain comes from losing what might have been – which in truth, never happened.  “What might have been” is actually only real in my own thoughts.  So that desire for more is not lost – it’s still there in me. It’s part of me.

Saying good bye doesn’t take away what was. That stays with you. What might have been is a reflection of my own hopes and wants. And I can manifest those things. I can create what is next by putting energy into gratitude for what was and a vision of what I want next. (Other people do a better job of talking about how we manifest.)

Maybe there are no endings – just what comes next. I don’t have to grieve what might have been – it still will be, just not the way I thought it would be.

Judgement

The Judgement card from the Gill Tarot deck

I hear voices.

Not the type that will get you committed. The type that reflects our inner false beliefs. For some people it is the “you will never be pretty-successful-able to pass that test” variety. For me, it is the voice of judgement undermining all the good in my life, telling me it’s not enough or that it won’t last. The beliefs are meant to trigger disappointment & bitterness.

These voices have been there for a long, long time. I inherited them from the last few generations of women in my life. They may have been legitimate once – those generations lived through the Depression and through violence, subjugation and a host of other struggles.

But they are not MY voice. When you understand that you are an active co-creator in your experience, that you are one with the Divine, disappointment & bitterness just don’t make sense. In the words of Trooper’s Raise a Little Hell “if you don’t like what you’ve got why don’t you change it?”

I’ve learned there’s a difference between judgement and discernment. Judgement is meant to dismiss or lessen the value of someone or something. Discernment is meant to understand the nature of the person or experience.  (This revelation came to me from Patrick Cameron the senior minister at Center for Spiritual Living).

That difference is important to me because in my professional life I’m expected to show good judgement. I assess people and business strategy for a living. So how do I silence the voices but continue to strive for “good judgement”? Someone with whom I have a deep relationship suggested I should just listen to my voice and ignore the others.  I love that he automatically assumed my voice would be loving.

In truth, now that I have identified the voices, and can identify it when it happens, you would think that would be the end of it.  Except that the voices start an emotional escalation process that seems to disable all my reason.  I find myself in a deep dark vortex of unhappiness when this spiral begins, and only some form of “break”, like sleep or crying, seems to stop that cycle.

A few days ago, a stranger posted a comment here suggesting I was judgemental and unable to love people. I don’t really struggle with that post – anyone who has ever met me knows that I strive to accept and love people very deeply.  In fact, the only people that I am most likely to exhibit judgementalness with are me, and my deepest intimate relationships. (BTW, watch this video to see some of my personal values for dialogue through this blog – love this guy!).

 
Goddess tarot deck – The Judgement

So, now I am trying something different.  I am going to love and thank that voice for trying to protect me and recognize I don’t need that protection anymore (got that idea from Medicine).  And I am going to practice gratitude for all the gifts and blessings that go with that experience.  I have been told we are attracted to exactly those souls who will trigger your deepest childhood healing.  And my deep relationships do exactly that.  So, I am grateful for the love I have in my life.  I am grateful for the souls who stand right beside me day after day as they witness my plummet into darkness and my repeated climb back up.  I am grateful that they have come into my circle to trigger and support me until I can stand in wholeness on my own.