Do I need that haircut?…Deciding what really has to happen

English: Durant-Dort Carriage Co Factory, Flint MI

English: Durant-Dort Carriage Co Factory, Flint MI (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We’re getting ready to head out on our annual trip to my home town in Michigan.  After a history of loading the week before vacation with all kinds of miscellaneous tasks I decided MUST happen before leaving, I’ve been slowly learning to evaluate what really relates to the trip.

This time the decision to go was kind of last minute.  We started to make this trip last June and a series of health issues for my mother have kept us postponing until, instead of going at a new time as we’d hoped, we’re going just a couple of weeks later than our usual time.  At the end of last week she finally had resolved the main issues and I realized if we don’t go this week we really can’t.

Getting a long-overdue haircut was one of the things on my fairly short list of trip prep stuff for the week.  But sleepless nights and headaches and various small things going awry added up to having trouble fitting it in.  And the thing is I’ve been wearing my hair pulled into a clip for some years now, so having my hair cut to a certain length or style doesn’t make the difference it made when I had a more precisely cut “do”.  So, as the days went on I shrugged and quietly lobbed “must get haircut” off the list.

The whole process of consciously addressing my habit of overdoing during the week before travel followed years of health issues causing me to stop and evaluate what really had to be done and what was dispensable in general.  Took a while to realize it was also a big issue before taking a trip.  Working on the travel aspect  has me thinking about busy-ness in general and how I see people handling their long lists.  It often feels to me as if it’s become fashionable to have an overloaded schedule and many people seem to feel there’s something wrong with them if their schedule isn’t totally loaded.

In the midst of the frantically filled schedules I see lots of the same issues I’ve had about deciding what really has to be done.  I remember a friend in a state of high anxiety giving me a list of Christmas must-dos — most with made-up deadlines — and explaining how frantic she felt.

The next item up for her was some outdoor decorating scheme.  I understood that all of this felt like “have-tos” for her but I didn’t understand why they HAD to be done.  I finally asked whether anyone would die or be maimed if she just didn’t decorate the yard.  She looked shocked and admitted no one would.  But I could tell that, even though my question caused her to think about it, she didn’t want to let go of being frantic.

I see people all the time being frantic about lists, driving themselves crazy over stuff that, to me, shouldn’t be considered big stuff.  To me, if nobody’s going to die or be maimed or permanently emotionally traumatized from the doing or not doing of it, it’s small stuff.

I also see a lot of folks who add to their sense of having no time by exaggerating their thoughts about how long things will take.  Sometimes its purely a mental exaggeration and sometimes they add a list of steps to it that don’t really need to be part of it (like thinking up things to do before I leave on vacation).  I remember sitting with two friends, trying to arrange a time in the next two weeks to meet for planning an event.

One of them went on about how she didn’t know how she could meet for an hour because she had some furniture arriving which would mean needing to move some other furniture.  My other friend and I looked at one another, puzzled, and later we wondered how many times she planned on moving every piece if it was going to fill an entire two weeks…  The sad thing was she was really wound up about it

Before life led me in a new direction, I stayed too busy and lived with great anxiety about trivial tasks.  I didn’t know how to set priorities by importance and tended to treat little things as if they carried life and death import.  Over the years I’ve been cutting back, most people have been speeding up and making their lists longer.

It’s strange to me that it’s become such a fashion to be anxious and frantic and over-scheduled.  I don’t think people look all that good when anxious or racing frantically around, so I find it an odd trend.  But I do get that if you never sit down you never have a quiet moment to feel the stuff you don’t want to look at.

I feel like so many people would be more relaxed if they learned how to lob the seriously unimportant stuff, to de-prioritize less important stuff, and/or get a realistic sense of what needs doing and how long it will take to do it.  Personally I highly advise working on a more relaxing lifestyle before you run yourself down so much a health issue forces you to do it.

And the health and relaxation that come from facing the shadows after you sit still for a minute …  WOW!   I’m just sayin’…

Meanwhile, I’m almost packed, the house sitter’s room is ready and off we go…

An exercise to get into the view from the heart

English: Motivational speaker Tony Robbins at ...

Tony Robbins at a Twitter conference in 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve had a few Super Soul Sunday episodes stacking up on my DVR, waiting for moments when I felt I could really sit and pay attention.  [I sort of watch a lot of TV but usually with laptop in lap while catching up on e-mails, reading and writing blog posts, etc….  so not really seeing much of it]

Today’s viewing was the last one I had, an interview with Tony Robbins from a few weeks back.  Though I’ve been aware of him for many years and vaguely familiar with his work, I’ve not read any of his books nor previously watched any of his videos so this was my first real encounter.

At about 21 minutes in on my recording he did a very short little meditation exercise centered around focusing on an issue in your life, moving into a heart space and then reexamining the issue with the energy of heart.  I thought it had some powerful possibilities.  The whole interview was really good and the “short” at the end was wonderful, so you might want to see the whole thing if you can find it.*

An excerpt with this exercise is available at the moment on the OWN site:

http://www.oprah.com/video_embed.html?article_id=64700

The exercise here was an abbreviated version of his technique so it may not reflect the impact of doing the full version.  I was definitely taken by it.  But I found the questions he asked us to consider about gratitude –supposedly to move me into heart– moved me into my head as I reached for memories that seemed to fit.

In spite of that I felt a shift in attitude.  The problem I used is fairly big so I’d like to do it again and for a longer time.  And I came up with a couple of other ways I’d like to try it.

The first piece, putting your hands over your heart, is a good use of “energy flows where attention goes”, so at first I moved naturally into heart energy because the placement of my hands took me there.  I think I might have done better on the next step with just breathing in and out of my heart with my hands held there, bringing extra attention and energy to that level.

In another meditation I regularly do there’s a moment where you’re asked to recall a moment of great happiness.  I always recall a visit back to Marin during which, while out on a walk, I hit a beautiful stretch I love and felt so delighted to be there that I danced around with my arms in the air.  Recalling the moment puts me in a magical place.  I’m also going to try doing the exercise using the happy memory and see how it goes.

So, the three possible variations:

  1.  His method:
  • place your hands over your heart and leave them there throughout
  • think of an issue or problem
  • list three things for which you’re grateful
  • come back to the issue and see how it feels or what answers you have from the heart space

2.  Using energy:

  • place your hands over your heart and leave them there throughout
  • think of an issue or problem
  • inhale and exhale from your heart at least six breaths (or until you feel you’ve moved into the energy of heart)
  • review the issue again and see if your feelings or ideas about it have changed

3.  Happy memory

  • place your hands over your heart and leave them there
  • think of an issue or problem
  • inhale and exhale from your heart two or three times
  • focus on the happiest moment you can think of and really let yourself feel it
  • come back to the issue and see how it feels or whether you have a different view

I think there’s some potential here for powerfully moving through stuck places in a pretty simple exercise, so I’ll be working with this one!


*OWN has gotten to be pretty cagey about making full episodes available after airing.  This one is not on the OWN youtube page although there are excerpts.  As of today (Sept. 20, 2016) it’s available through On Demand.  It is NOT available on the OWN app.

Me and the Sun Porch

Okay, I’ve been all serious, deep thinking and heavily pontificating lately so I figured it was time for something a little lighter.  I’ve also been realizing a place where my blog always feels lacking to me is on the kind of personal stuff some of my favorite bloggers regularly post.

Not that I don’t reveal some deeply personal things here, but when I think of some of my faves such as Ra over at Rarasaur, Louise at Dare Boldly, or Liz at be love live I see these unfolding stories of lives being lived, events chronicled, etc. as well as their own lovely brands of deep spiritual thinking about all of it.

The thing is, in the years I’ve been blogging I’ve also not really been having a life in that sense.  A lot has happened but it’s all about healing on various levels and the toll it has all taken on my body has kept me mostly at home.

So a lot of my contemplation lately as I move through what I’m devoutly hoping is the final stretch of this portion of my healing journey (I’ve come to believe the journey of healing, growing, expanding never ends), is wondering what the next phase will be.  Right now I still don’t know and, as I’ve mentioned, I don’t want to plot and plan before I’m able to do it from the vantage point of the healed version of me.  Transformation is constantly in process and my sense of self and what I want changes with it…

In the meantime, a lot of this contemplating is happening on my sun porch (remember,, the lighter note of the post🙂 ) and I took a few shots one day to show my view when I’m hanging out there.  And since I keep mentioning my new hang out, thought I’d share:

Breaking patterns, changing tapes…

A friend of mine recently asked me to suggest some practices or therapies that help to break patterns.  As soon as I gave it some serious thought I realized my answer is complex and I’ve been letting it percolate ever since.  Ultimately it seemed like some good info to organize into a post…

There have been a few distinct phases to my long spiritual and healing  journey.  The one most relevant to this question began in the early “aughts”.  I’d been “on the path” since 1985, when I began with some quite New Age material, including a lot of stuff about affirmations.  I soon thought of myself as having become a positive person.

I moved on to go through Nine Gates Mystery School, study Huna, add various practices to my regular yoga routine and complete the Fisher Hoffman Process.  Still thinking I’d become all positive …

Somewhere in the realm of 2006 a friend gently recommended The Secret after listening to me bitch for a couple of hours about substitute teaching.  For the first time I totally got how much negative thinking ran in my brain all the time.  It finally sank in that half an hour a day of affirming and visualizing can’t possibly overcome 23-1/2 hours of negative tapes running.

Later What the Bleep helped me understand how those tapes create neural nets and begin to deprive your peptide receptors of the ability to accept anything positive or good for you.   Once I began seeing these things I started working away at how to bust through it, change neural nets, heal peptide receptors, and, most importantly, CHANGE MY MIND.

Tending to throw multiple possible solutions at these kinds of issues, I pursued several paths.  In hindsight I can see I addressed it on several levels, physical, mental, and energetic.  Over the years I’ve found it helps to heal more than one level.  Some think healing one automatically spills over into healing them all but I have not found that to be true for me.  I find it works better to heal on various levels and they start working together.

PHYSICAL

The physical healing path for me has been ongoing now for thirty+ years and sometimes I have to look back to realize aspects of it tied in to more than just sorting out my muscles.  During this time I began getting Bodypatterning* treatments and also played around with Robert Masters’ Psychophysical Method combined with yoga until I created the work I’m now calling Flowing Body, Flowing Life.

The Bodypatterning and the Flowing Body work both help to bust up patterns held in muscles — which often means they both help you to release emotional issues held in those same patterns.  Some of the changes created by this intense period of releasing muscle patterns had a profound impact on changing what was happening with my thoughts.  Everyone I worked with who combined getting Bodypattening with doing my movement work created big releases and shifts.

CranioSacral work also created big pattern shifts and was responsible for setting off the unwinding process in my head.  I’ve gone back occasionally for more of that work.  Synchronistically, I met Kreig, the Bodypatterning fellow, through the school/massage center founded by the CranioSacral therapist–Judy– I saw so when Judy moved away I was able to move into the new modality which finally busted up many long-held patterns .

Yoga, if practiced mindfully and with attention to how it’s feeling, can also be a vehicle for release.  People tend to pull out of postures as soon as they start to tap into a pattern with attached emotions.  If you consciously note the desire to pull out but keep holding the posture, you will often come to a release.

These are just the techniques that worked best for me.  If you have a therapy or a movement practice that breaks up patterns for you, I’d say choose the one that already works for you.

MENTAL

For me, getting old tapes to stop playing has been a long process and one I wouldn’t call easy.  A variety of things can bring change.  Some big changes arrived during and upon completion of the Fisher Hoffman Process work, which involved a lengthy examination of parents’ beliefs and admonitions, seeing how you’ve incorporated all of them and a LOT of release work.  Really helped change some habits of thinking.

I’ve found affirmations quite helpful, but only when I changed the way I worked with them.  Once I saw the ongoing negative patterns in my thinking I set up a “watcher” to try to stay mindful of when I ran the tapes and which ones showed up most often.

I then developed affirmations which were basically positive turnarounds of the negative tapes.  Every time I caught myself re-running a negative tape, I would stop and repeat the turnaround statement several times.

It helped a lot in two major ways: (1) staying conscious of the patterns seemed to decrease their frequency and (2) the regular repetition of the turnarounds helped to create new, more positive, patterns.  And I think new neural nets…

I’ve long believed subliminal recordings can reach the unconscious and influence change.  I bought a selection of Dick Sutphen’s affirmation recordings and began playing them often; sometimes on a repeating loop all night long.  Then I put together a long list of them on Spotify and have been playing it very softly all day most days.  It’s slow and subtle but over time it has led to far more positive thought patterns.

ENERGETIC

Having learned a lot of practices like Flying Crane Chi Gung and the Eight Key Breaths, I knew how much can shift when energy is stronger and/or more balanced and/or flowing more freely.  Considering the benefits of various practices, I chose the Flying Crane, Key Breaths and the Five Tibetan Rites and began to practice 1-3 of them daily.  I wrote about it long ago here, with more explanations of the practices.

As noted in a recent post, I find changing energy lets you bypass the mind and create a shift without mental interference.  I just chose three practices I particularly love because they seemed to fit some specific goals I had at the time — many other practices that work with energy could give you similar benefits.

These practices, done while also receiving Bodypatterning, clearly enhanced the therapy as well as helping to move my energy into new and healthier patterns.

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If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I’ve also done a lot of work on ancestral patterns and visited a couple of healers who also helped in that arena.  Some of those posts:

I do NOT consider any of the information in this post to be any kind of definitive list.  I don’t believe in definitive lists.  I believe that whatever you believe will work, will work.  The specifics here are just to give you an idea of the kinds of practices I used.  Can’t say I’ve finished the process but enormous transformation has taken place since I began this pattern breaking process.  Anyone can do it.

* Developed by a fellow here in Lexington, it’s the most amazing body work I’ve had — and I’ve experienced at least a dozen varieties.  He now has a school, called Full Circle Massage School, so I’m in hopes practitioners will be fanning across the country and the globe, making it possible to get treatments wherever you are.

Peeling more layers

Eyemuscles

Eyemuscles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last couple of weeks have involved a lot of unwinding, not sleeping and headaches…  and a lot of reflection about this long long process.  [Pretty much every muscle you see up there has been wound up in knots and intertwined and/or glued to just about every other muscle in my face they could possibly touch]

Both body work practitioners and meditation “guides” have told me there were dangers (blindness or stroke) in opening the muscles too fast so I’ve tried to be grateful but really by and large I’ve been frustrated and impatient.  I’ve repeatedly asked the Universe and Ku to just finish the healing and let me be free.  I’ve said affirmations and done visualizations (and no, I’m not looking for suggestions for some other technique to try).  I’ve done practices and spent fortunes on body work and healers.  It all helps but the process is still maddeningly slow.

When I feel the degree of tugging on the left optic nerve and realize the depth to which it has been entwined in other muscles it IS nerve wracking and I can sense the danger if something pulled too hard or too suddenly.  It helps me understand the need for a slow unfolding but doesn’t stop me wishing it would hurry up.

I also keep feeling different stages of energy returning, with growing comprehension of how much energy tight muscles commandeer.  Long ago, when I finished the Fisher Hoffman process, most of the major muscles in my body (not head) finally started letting go.  The next year or two brought great progress in body work and I experienced a great boost of energy first from releasing the emotional material and then from opening muscles so energy could flow more freely.  It turned out the chronic fatigue arose from the muscle issues.

Now I’m experiencing an amazing process wherein the unfolding around my eyes is opening up energy pathways through my whole body.  It’s amazing to realize how much of my prana has been sidetracked into holding all these tight muscles in my face and how much tight muscles interfere with the flow of energy.

And the more I feel it the more I want to shout out to the many folks I see everywhere I go whose muscles are visibly tight:  heal your muscles and get your energy back!  Haven’t decided how to present this mission of healing but I can see it’s part of the reason for this long drawn-out process.

My impression, based both on my own experience and what I’ve observed, is that most people don’t realize how fatiguing it is to have tight muscles.  How detrimental to your health.  Until I finally got the right diagnosis, I had no idea tight muscles could squeeze organs and glands.  For me, it was every organ and every gland being squeezed until they could barely function.

For now all I can think of is to tell you to take care of your muscles.  If you have knots and painful places, do what you have to to heal them.  Your health and vitality depend on it.

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A kinder view of ego

Microsoft clipart MP900399589

Microsoft clipart MP900399589

I’ve been reading Wayne Dyer’s companion book to “The Shift” movie in dribs and drabs and, while I’m enjoying it, I’ve also been noticing how much of the discussion is about ego. And he talks about ego as if it’s something to be eradicated.  His view is one I’ve seen in many places.  In Huna, I encountered a rather different idea about ego and I like it much better.

Huna considers us to have three levels of being.  Serge King calls them ku (unconscious), lono (conscious/mind) and kane (higher consciousness).*  Ku’s characteristics are very close to those of ego as described by many sources.  It adds a little more omniscience and is known for controlling the physical, but otherwise quite similar.

In this philosophy ku is considered to be the level that looks out for you and tries to make sense of the world and create a set of rules for life.  Ku always wants to move in the direction of what’s best for you or what will feel the best.  However, ku develops its basic view of the world based on your early life when your caretakers control life and death over you.

Whatever they do that threatens or frightens, whatever negative beliefs and admonitions they hold, ku takes all of that in, develops your belief system based on those experiences, and then runs your life by that system.  But ku’s main function is always to choose the path of greater happiness.

So if you talk to ku and work with him/her, you can change the original set of beliefs and get ku to work with you on creating a new reality.  Show ku your vision of happiness if you released an issue or got the job or … and ask ku to remember its mission to move you toward the greater happiness.

Explain to ku with kindness how grateful you are for the service she/he has always tried to offer and ask ku to take on new beliefs that will serve adult you better.  I love this way of acknowledging a level of myself that’s always going to be part of me and, instead of treating it like a demon needing an exorcism, to work with my unconscious to create a new belief system.

I mentioned recently that I’m seeing a lot of the thinking of Judeo-Christian institutions permeating New Age/New Thought thinking and this tendency to characterize ego as evil is an example. When I read these discussions in which ego is spoken of as if it’s some outside agent of the devil, I feel as if I’ve wandered into the church’s world of black and white and good and evil.

I think ego is just part of you, doing the best it can to keep you safe.  And more than willing to listen to you and work with you on changing course.  If you can save your infected toe or your weak heart you’d do it without a blink.  Why would you be willing to try to stomp out your ego?  It’s part of you.


*The typical words used in Huna are longer, but King likes to keep things short and simple and I like his easy-to-remember names.  The concepts are exactly the same as in any other discussion of the three levels.  (i.e. a rose by any other name…)

Part 4: Practices and Creating New Grooves

My final piece for this series (though not by a long shot the last thoughts I’ll post about doing practices🙂 ) is a reflection on doing or not doing practices as a form of self-sabotage.

As I mentioned in the last post, I don’t feel you have to have a super strict formal practice but at the same time I’ve often noted in myself and others that sporadic practice or refusal to practice at all can be a way of sabotaging progress.  On the other side, sometimes when you’ve processed a lot of material or made some big changes, there’s a kind of plateau period during which you need time to integrate what you’ve already done.

I’m always seeing fine lines in this journey between one side and another and this is one of those places.  In Part 3 I discussed the importance of learning how you react when you’re resisting something that could help you versus recognizing something’s just not for you.  It’s equally important, I feel, to learn the difference between when you are sabotaging yourself by refusing to do practices and when it’s sabotage to make yourself do it when your inner voice is telling you “no” and to recognize how you sabotage.

Some years back I realized I’d long carried out a really subtle form of sabotage:  I’d meditate or do the Tibetan Rites regularly for a few weeks … and then .. I’d just …  drift … … away from it.  For a while it would cross my mind to do it and then every night I’d find myself in bed without having done it.  And then a couple of months would go by when it never even crossed my mind.  Eventually I’d come back and pick it up again and then go through the same process.

Once I could see it I worked at being mindful. I’ve been much more able to stick with things and when I do drift, the spaces of not doing have become more like days instead of weeks or months.  It was a tough one to get hold of because something in my unconscious was very good at just keeping my mind shuttered enough to forget to do the practice(s).

Another way I used to sabotage myself — and one I’ve seen MANY people use — was trying to make everything a question of controlling my mind.  A lot of New Age/New Thought teachings encourage this idea that you can change everything by just changing your mind.  Up to a point, you can, but between unconscious issues and the efforts of ego to maintain the status quo, I think it takes an approach that touches more levels of being — emotional, physical, ancestral, etc.

When people want to keep the whole journey on a mental plane, they tend to refuse to meditate or take up the Eight Key Breaths or to sing chants or any other exercise.  As you know, I deeply believe the practices designed by many ancient traditions are excellent at penetrating into the shadows and helping you to let go of the darkness and raise your consciousness.  They tend to operate on levels of energy and higher consciousness so they bypass the stranglehold ego tends to have on mental processes.

For me it was especially evident when it came to emotional release work.  I was convinced I didn’t need it and I resisted all suggestions about doing something on that order.  Eventually I watched a lot of friends transform while doing the Fisher Hoffman process–as my late friend Ellen facilitated it, which is not what you get from the Hoffman Institute–and realized I needed to sign up.  Once I’d completed the work with her I felt so fond of the sweet freedom it brings, for years I kept going through the process every time I uncovered another issue.

Absolute refusal to do a practice or exercise is a major way to sabotage yourself.  I think on some level we always know when a practice is likely to open channels into the shadow and/or create a big change.  Even if the change is positive, your unconscious/ego may object and create resistance.  I try to check in and see whether fear of change or fear of “seeing” is behind the feeling that I absolutely don’t want to do something.

If it’s fear, I do it anyway, but sometimes I set a boundary that compromises between the “just do it” and the “no, no, no”.  Maybe, “I’ll just do it three times a week for 10 minutes.”  Or, I”m just going to do this today and I don’t have to do it again.  And then repeat the next day.  I have never been sorry I stepped beyond the fear and into the place where freedom lives.  Not once.

The other major way I sabotaged myself for a long time was failing to stop sometimes and allow the letting go and changing to become integrated.  I’ve mentioned it before — I’ve been in a hurry through most of this journey and definitely inclined to push the river.  There were many times I should have paused for a while but I’d just study with a new teacher or take up another practice.

I think my higher self/the Universe led me into this final and life-disturbing phase with my muscle issues to get me to finally stop for a while.  It was HARD for me to accept but as I’ve learned to sit back and quit pushing so hard, I’ve been able to see how crucial it is to allow the slow down/integration cycle to have its place in the transformational journey.*

Sometimes resistance is your higher self telling you to stop for a while, sometimes it’s your intuition telling you this practice isn’t for you.  Sometimes resistance arises from fear of change or fear of a better life.  And it’s your challenge to figure it out…

Which is where we circle back to mindfulness.  In order to be aware of how you sabotage and when you’re doing it, and in order to stay on track with doing practices, you have to spend enough time with your consciousness in the present moment to be aware of these things.  And few people are capable of creating a new “mindfulness” groove without practicing.

As I mentioned back in the first post in this series, I find that any practice, from chanting to movement (tai chi, Tibetan Rites, walking meditation…) to guided or silent meditation, can be a lesson in mindfulness if you focus on the practice and your breath and let any intruding thoughts drift away.  The practices will impact other issues and levels at the same time you’re learning to stay in the moment, so it’s a positive all around.

If you want to play piano, you practice.  If you want to learn French, you practice.  If you want to let go of whatever binds you and expand into the Divine Being you really are….   PRACTICE.  And if you’re sabotaging yourself by not practicing — or practicing too much — figure how to gently move yourself through the fear.  And then practice🙂


*And it isn’t that I quit doing any practices, I just stuck mainly with the ones that ease my muscles and keep me balanced

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