Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Emotions: Watching and Responding Rather than Reacting

Sometimes, we need to get broken down in order to recognize the need for a rebuild. Sometimes, things have to get just beyond the level we can tolerate in order for us to burst forth with change.

I practice respecting my emotions. Especially the darker ones that make me feel down, fearful, isolated or worthless. I recognize that they are just emotions and that I don't have to respond to them. Rather, I can watch them, talk to them, ask them questions, poke them with words, mindfully escape from them, and ultimately wait to hear what they are teaching me. Sometimes, I see pretty clearly what they are teaching and that brings up new fears. "Really?" I think, "You want me to look at that!?! How uncomfortable!"

It is the ego within us that resists change, because change is uncomfortable for the ego. The ego likes to run the show, be the know-it-all. It is the part of us that lives for applause, seeks to be validated from the outside, and greedily shouts "I AM!" When my fears bring up the discomforts of the ego, I can easily get caught in victim mode -- that place where I can see where everyone else needs to change except me.

As you can imagine, this isn't a very powerful position, thus the term "victim." It creates the illusion of safety; a safe place for the ego. If I am the victim, then I've done nothing wrong and don't need to change. I am the acted upon, the objectified, the passive. While this position stokes the ego, it keeps us stuck in the same pattern.

When we come up against a wall in our life, when we finally get pushed to the corner, when we have been criticized, marginalized, judged, energetically attacked, when we have accommodated the last recognized part of our soul in order to serve someone else -- that is obvious signal that something needs to change. That is when we need to look at our situation and courageously ask, "What is my part in this? Where in this sea of discomfort, ridicule and pain have I had a hand in its creation? What part of me is choosing this reality?"

Those are super scary questions. I know. My ego really likes me to be right. The ego says, "If you're wrong about this then there's something fundamentally wrong with you!" The ego gives us no space to be wrong. Luckily, we are not our ego. It just belongs to us. We are energetic beings filled with a Divine spark of consciousness. It is this space within us that gives us space for all that is. In this space, it is not that things are right or wrong, just that there are actions and consequences.

I got a little beaten down last week. I shined my light in places it wasn't welcome, and received a bit of an energetic and emotional beating. My sensitive friends, I'm sure you understand. It feels terrible.

It was difficult for me. I cried. I placed blame. I shouted insults into the air. I retreated into myself, into the bathtub, into a glass of wine, into a chocolate bar. The next morning, I went to a yoga class where we worked on mobilizing the sacroiliac joint -- the place in my body where there's already too much mobility and where I constantly work on providing stability. Throughout the class, I kept thinking, "This is terrible! This hurts! This isn't what I want or need at all!" Until I suddenly recognized: This is my favorite yoga class. With an instructor I really like. Which I'm practicing with a healthy body. My thoughts are ruining this for me.

I came home and started watching my thoughts, my emotions, and my reactions to them. My analyzer really wanted me to formulate "A Plan." A plan that would get me out of the situations that caused persistent pain and punishment energy. To get out of that situation at any cost and move on. Which has been the answer for me in the past. But something about that didn't feel right. And so I kept watching.

I watched, I exchanged readings with a friend, I started a few books I'd ordered to start shifting my perspective in a few key ways. And I realized that as bad as my negative situation was, I had created it and in some ways, I controlled the ways in which the negative energy affected me. Leave now, and I was doomed to repeat this lesson because I needed this lesson. I recognizes that I need to learn how to more fully fine-tune my protection tools, to allow my inner smile to shine through with my inner light, no matter who I'm on contact with.

So I've created a shift for myself in the form of a 40 day plan. I have 40 days to consistently and mindfully practice a tool that I've had but not fully utilized. Forty days to re-establish Ayurvedic routines that I lost when I let down my protection. Forty days to practice shifting my perspective on abundance and prosperity. Forty days to learn the lessons that I planned for myself to learn so that I don't have to learn them again when I move on.

Ayurvedic medicine is just one of the sources that claims that it takes 40 days to form a habit, or to reprogram our consciousness for the better. It's day two for me currently, and I'm excited to keep on it!

It's so important for us highly sensitive folks, us empaths, us easily anxious or worried, to take extra care of our bodies and minds. To learn to watch our emotions rather than reacting immediately. To nourish our nervous systems with luxurious routines laced with self-love and self-care. To learn to protect our sensitive bodies from the moods, emotions, criticisms and energetic attacks of others. When we fail to do this, we can create a situation where we don't even trust our own bodies or our own emotions, because they are always betraying us.

But when we practice self-love, self-care, protection, healthy boundaries and responding rather than reacting to our emotions, we create a safe, nourishing place for our sensitive bodies and spirits to ground, to retreat and to enjoy so that we can more readily offer our sensitive gifts to the world.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Somedays, I Feel Like a Spy

Some days, I think I would make a perfect spy. On those certain days, people I interact with don't recognize me. I can walk by and wave stand next to them at the grocery store and all I get are blank stares.

Other days, I feel like I'm invisible all together. Just last night on the drive home from work, not one but two people nearly ran me over. They didn't see that I was there and they swerved into my lane. Twice in under three miles I had to slam on my brakes and swerve. Also, twice in under three miles, I yelled a string of cuss words that would make my dad stand up and salute. But I digress....

I've written ad nauseum about how we are energetic beings first and foremost, and that our energetic blueprint lives inside of and instructs our physical human bodies. If you've ever watched a really good actor, you see that the energy they embrace allows them to become a completely different character. In the same body, they become a different person. Which begs the question, if we can choose to play a character by changing our energy, then which character are you being today? And did you consciously choose it?

Today, I walked around in the neighborhood where I work part time as a physical rehabilitation specialist for folks with spinal injuries. Many of my clients work in one of the local businesses, and as I shopped for groceries during the lunch hour, I stood in line next to a regular client. I smiled, and he politely smiled in return, no form of recognition in his eyes. I could have said something, could have told him it was me, but instead I chose to watch the energy exchange as a type of experiment. On the way back to my car, I saw my co-worker through the window of our office and she had the same reaction -- a polite smile as she turned away. When I stopped and pulled the door open, she exclaimed, "I didn't even recognize you!"

You could say that both greetings were out of context. That we place certain people with certain contexts in order to remember them. Or that maybe I was wearing different clothes or had done my hair differently. Those things can both be true. But the other thing that changed was my energy, the vibration I was set at or the character I was choosing to play.

When the intention for my day is to be a rehabilitation specialist, my energetic vibration changes to support it. If I like the people I work with and enjoy my work environment, my vibration might also change a bit to match it. If my place of work has a strong brand or work ethos, my vibration might also change to match it.

When the intention for my day is to work as an intuitive healer, my vibration shifts accordingly. Because this is more along the lines of my dharma, or true life's work, my vibration rises quit a bit. In fact, I think it changes enough that I become a different character in the same body. In my intuitive healer character, those who interact with me from the rehabilitation specialist vibration may not recognize me.

Setting our energy, vibration or character is all about intention. When we set clear, grounded intentions with the Universe, we make energetic shifts automatically. Shifts in our personal energy field can happen instantaneously. Intentions for shifts in our environment, career or in other physical things may take more time.

I think of bigger intentions like turning on your turn signal in your car. When I was almost run over last night (twice!), I noticed that both of the culprits turned on their signal while they were changing lanes rather than before they changed lanes. They didn't look for space, didn't early signal their intentions, simply signaled while swerving. When we signal intentions for a lane change, where we're asking the Universe for a large change in our life, we need to give the Universe a little time to make space for our intention. Otherwise, we risk running someone over and creating chaos, rather than allowing for the perfect spot to open up for us.

When we set intentions for larger items, like job changes, abundance or health -- basically for anything outside of a simple vibrational change -- we must learn to be patient and have faith. When we don't, we risk creating chaos  -- chaos in our mind. How many times have you wished for something really bad and kept wishing and wishing to the point that the wish wasn't even fun anymore, but filled with anxiety? Intention setting, or manifesting, is about setting the intention (flipping on your turn signal), waiting for the Universe to make space for your request or having faith (waiting for the other drivers to make space) and being self aware to recognize our answer, even if it's not in the form we originally imagined (we get space behind the big truck, not the sports car).

Setting intentions for manifesting takes faith. Faith does not necessarily refer to any sort of theism but rather faith in the sense that there is a place for you on this planet. Faith that your heart-felt intentions and desires are heard. Faith that you are deserving, and faith that you are enough. When we set our vibration, our character, from this place -- this place of faith that we are enough -- then there is nothing that we can't manifest, change or create.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Emotional Hostage

I haven't written for over a month. The holidays got to me, obligations, deadlines, responsibility. Vacation also got to me, in a cold and snowy way that only my home of Utah can provide. I spent time with my family. I detached from reality for a while. I remembered how much I love red wine with holiday fare and I found my passion for skiing waiting for me once more at the top of a cold mountain peak.

And for a number of reasons I won't get into here, I became extremely stressed out. I recognized some of the signs of cortisol overload in my system, but wasn't able to do much about them. My period of stress lasted too long, to the point where everything seemed hard. Nothing seemed fun, joyous, or worthwhile -- everything felt like an obligation. Hiking felt like an obligation. Breakfast -- obligation. I thought to myself, "Why would I write about this? I'm not doing a very good job at being an Intuitive Healer right now. I'm doing it all wrong. What could I possibly have to share with others right now."

I've noticed a tendency for me to get very caught up in doing something all the way. Being a purist, you might say. For example, I feel guilty calling myself a yogi if I'm not practicing everyday, or a runner if I'm not running X miles a week. I feel guilty calling myself a healer if I get a little out of whack every now and then. After speaking to a good friend, I realized that I don't really need to be a yogi, or a runner, or a healer. I can just be me, and I can practice yoga, or go running, or offer healing. This is the place I am practicing from now.

But last month, I got off track. Things got difficult. My relationships suffered. My part-time job suffered. The compassionate space I usually hold for others shrunk and I felt very caught up in the dramas inside my body and mind. For the first time in a while, I actually felt despair. And I thought, "Seriously? Despair? I don't have enough bad things in my life to feel despair!" I also had no context for working through it, since it's an emotion that our culture fears, holding it at arms length, turning it into a clinical diagnosis, and throwing anti-depressants at it.

On a field trip in college, we went to the Berkeley Pit. The Pit is an old copper mine in Butte, Montana. It is more than a mile wide and feels like a mile deep. Birds flock to the water-filled bottom on their migrational flight, only to be killed instantly by the acidic conditions of the water. The mine created the biggest Superfund site in the entire US, largely due to the trailings that polluted the Clark Fork River downstream. When I stood on the side of the pit, I felt the despair of the earth and her creatures and was stunned to shock.

Sometimes, I feel like there is a hole inside of me where despair resides. Lots of little things build until the whole tower falls and becomes despair -- the challenge living my values, maintaining my relationships, working on projects that feel like a waste of time so I can pay the bills while I try to make my dreams fill my bank account. Cultural despair, the fights of freedom and equality for all above bigotry and intolerance. Environmental despair, as I watch the health of the planet deteriorate along with the health of human bodies and cry out in frustration as we fail to see the connection.

We live in a time when cultural, environmental, racial and social despair is real. Yet we don't allow ourselves to feel it because it's so painful and there are such wonderful distractions -- social media, reality TV, happy hour, legalized marijuana, porn, exercise, gossip, movies and CNN.

Some days, I can watch this pit of despair as any other energy that I would watch and manage. I notice how it's influenced, how it grows, what makes it bigger, what lessens its impact, and how I can channel this despair and transform it toward positive emotion and action. Other days, I feel raw. I feel like I can see every inequity, every shadow side, every hard line and each piece of trash on the highway. On days like those, it is easy to think that I AM despair, or that the despair is me.

Emotions are real. The create chemical changes in our bodies and we feel different with different emotions. The stronger the emotion, the more it screams for our attention until we may start to feel like our emotion is our reality, that we ARE the emotion. But we're not. We are not our emotions, any more than we are our bodies. They belong to us, like the clothes that we wear, but they are not us.

We are spirits, energetic beings, in human bodies having human experiences. When we can remember this, really remember it, then we can start the process of detaching just enough from our emotions so that we can begin the process of emotional alchemy -- transforming darker emotions like fear, despair and grief into things like hope, faith and joy. But first we must remember that our true nature is spirit so that we can detach just enough to see that the emotion belongs to us but isn't who we are.

We are love, light, pure consciousness combined with pure potential for action and creativity. We are the creative force in the Universe and also the watcher of the creation. We live in human bodies -- just like any place we live, we are bound in some way by the structure around us. If we live in an apartment, for example, we have limited space to create gardens or grow food. If we live in the country, we might have miles between our nearest neighbor. Similarly, living as spirits in human bodies has it's limitations. We must experience time linearly, whereas our spirits do not. We experience physical and emotional pain, drama, betrayal and violence. We are confined to the ideas of the mind that tell us that we're separate, alone, too much of one thing and not enough of the other. Sometimes it can feel that our bodies or minds are out to get us, that they are pushing us around.

Luckily, we have the ability not only to experience life inside a body and mind but also to observe it. We have the ability to detach from the pain for just a moment and to recognize that we aren't the pain, it's just an experience that we're having. This can help us detach from the story that our mind tells us about our pain and form a new context and story about our experience as a human.

If we can learn to detach, watch and tell a new story, we can start to thread together a tapestry for our lives that weaves together a stronger framework for understanding our lives. We may not finish the tapestry, but we can weave beautiful patterns of truth as we go.