Being Positive, Discovering Issues and the Fine Line Between

Many times over the years I’ve circled around to a contemplation of whether I need to dig around in my past and discover old issues or it would be better to hold positive thoughts.  I’ve wound up after landing for periods of time on both sides, concluding that most of us need a combo.  And maybe there’s a time more for one and a time for the other.

I started off in the “You Create Your Own Reality”, positive-thinking and affirmations mode.  Initially, when I was in total excitement with discovering this whole new way of thinking and being, it worked magically well for me (which certainly fits the theory of the Law of Attraction).  But — at least as I see it — I eventually hit the wall of negative beliefs which permeated my being and it seemed like my spiritual progression ground to a halt.

Still clinging to a belief that this spiritual path offered a better way forward, I kept plugging and wound up being guided to Ellen Margron’s marvelous version of the Fisher-Hoffman Process (Ellen has since died and as far as I’m aware no one else had similarly developed or taken on the longer and more comprehensive process she created).  Massive amounts of digging around in my belief system and releasing (“processing”) beliefs that no longer served me transformed many aspects of my life and I became a firm believer in the need to do some excavating.

Over the years I’ve periodically run into teachers who feel it’s more important to hold positive thoughts and not necessary to examine the past.  Initially I couldn’t even compute what they were trying to say.  I now get it if I think of neural nets.  Creating new positive thoughts and beliefs can build new neural nets and your unconscious will often start taking down the old thinking patterns as it recognizes how much better the new pattern feels– or at least guide you to behave/respond from the newer nets.

But many neural patterns are so intertwined and complex and well-established, I decided somewhere along the way that just saying affirmations and “thinking positive” is kind of like aiming a drip of water at the top of Mt. Everest and waiting for the mountain to erode….  And I also noticed how often people’s determined positivity seemed more like denial than a true shift.

During “The Process” Ellen taught us about layers of being.  The divine essence or true heart is in the center, then the next circle is the negative thoughts and beliefs we develop as we’re taught that we’re not divine and perfect and then around that we circle the mask of the personality we choose to present.  The most fascinating piece for me was the news that meditating or affirming, etc. while determinedly avoiding the roiling circle of negativity in the middle CREATES ANOTHER LAYER AROUND THE OUTSIDE instead of taking you into the heart.

This really describes the sense of denial I sometimes feel from some peoples’ “positive outlooks” — like a big layer of plastic is covering something they’re avoiding.  In pursuit of spirituality or calm or peacefulness they’ve thickened the layers hiding the true heart instead of illuminating it.

That said, after years of digging and excavating I’ve come to see you can also get kind of caught up in the other direction and turn life into a constant process of finding what you need to fix.  For those of us who already suspect something is deeply “wrong” with us, it’s an easy trap in which to land.

Having cleared a great deal, I’ve come to a place where I feel a lot of benefit from holding to positive thoughts.  I keep watch for negative belief patterns but instead of feeling I need to pursue and “process” them, I work at staying mindful enough to turn around the thought to a statement that carries the belief I’d rather hold.  I’ve written before about some of the other ways I submerge myself in affirmative thinking so here I’ll just say I can feel the neural nets changing from all the steps toward thinking more positively.

In the end I’d have to say I feel it’s both.  If you hold a huge amount of negative thought patterns — especially if they’re ancestral patterns of thought that have been passed down for generations — I think some excavating out of the past is the only way you’re going to step beyond it.  And I really think if you feel absolutely determined never to examine your life there’s a big issue just in that to explore.  Why are you unwilling to look into whatever may be holding on and hindering you?

It’s kind of a juggling act I’d say between exploring issues as you become aware of them and creating a new structure of thinking.  And I’d guess in the early stages of the journey most of us need a bit more on the digging around side and as we clear issues it becomes more fruitful to work on building new neural nets with positive thoughts and beliefs.  I’d love to hear some chiming in from some of you deep thinkers out there!  What’s been your experience?

Note:  Zoe at HopeDreamWait has nominated me for a Cramm Blog award.  I quit participating in these blog awards some time ago, but I am so grateful to Zoe for nominating me — thanks!.  Her blog is fun, so check her out!

 

Subtle shifting

English: Beach, Grescleit. The sands are shift...

Shifting Sands (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I spent several weeks recently reading my way through Life Loves You by Robert Holden and Louise Hay and sort of doing the practices.  Some I did exactly as provided, some I re-crafted to use similar practices I know..

It’s been a return to the sort of practices and info I devoured at the beginning of my spiritual journey.  On one hand I’ve very much enjoyed the return to the basics as well as seeing how much more these things flow after years of clearing away emotional debris and physically opening my body.  On the other hand, counter to their predictions for big change, this far down the road and after the huge amounts of change and release I’ve already undergone, to me the impacts of this work were subtle.

Getting my mind to quit running old tapes and stop reacting out of inter-generational habits has been one of my great challenges.  I’ve finally reached a place where the kind of positive thinking, gratitude and forgiveness practices in this book grab hold with greater ease and I’m so pleased to feel the years of work on affirmations and retraining my brain are resulting in finally seeing a bigger impact from such practices.

The piece about which I’ve been most excited was a little change that suddenly happened with my lovingkindness chanting several weeks in on the Life Loves You venture.  As you know, I’ve been a fan of the lovingkindness chant for years and since the election I’ve established a regular practice of chanting it for 10 minutes 4 or 5 times a week.  Suddenly one night I found myself saying it with a change of emphasis while simultaneously being flooded with a sense of the meaning of each separate affirmation:

  • I am filled with lovingkindness
  • I am well
  • I am peaceful and at ease
  • I am happy

It’s hard to describe the inner shift as I say it now.  Over the years I’ve mostly said it as one continuous piece.  It’s always been powerful for me, always opened a big flow of energy through my heart.  But now I’m saying it with a great consciousness of each phrase being an affirmation of something I truly assert to be true — and the powerful feeling has grown.

Another phase of major unwinding has been unfolding as well, opening some significant pieces where my left eye, cheek and jaw have all felt crunched together.  Still not done, but open enough to feel something significant is happening.

Then the other night I had a bunch of tabs open on my browser and as I moved from one to another I noticed I had 5 FB notifications, 5 new posts waiting on WP, 5 notifications from Pinterest, an ad with a big “5” in it….  Although I find it interesting, I’ve never had a conscious experience of one or more numbers repeating like that.  Linda over at litebeing chronicles does pay a lot of attention to numbers and knows a lot about it so when the first post I saw on FB the next day was from her and IT had “5” in it, I asked her about the meaning.  “Change,” she said.  I also found a site with spiritual meanings of numbers and “manifestation” came up.

Feels like the Universe is giving me a big thumbs up and confirming big change is afoot!

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The view from both sides of some practices

Chapman Dr, Corte Madera

Chapman Dr, Corte Madera

 

As I mentioned in the last post, my practices have been a little hit and miss lately as I wade through another round of unwinding and not sleeping.  The on and off of it is giving me a chance to observe the doing and not doing and the way I feel about both.

Some years ago I realized I often sabotaged my progress by not doing my practices.  I’d start one up or get back to an old friend and do it faithfully for a few days or a week or two and then I’d start “forgetting” (helped along by often feeling too crappy to do anything).  More and more days would pass between practices until I’d finally realize I couldn’t remember the last time I meditated or performed a round of chi gung.

Once it sank in I asked myself some deep questions about why I sabotaged myself.  Then I set up a “watcher” to help me keep track of consistency and give me a nudge so I could put myself back on track.  Ever since I’ve been much better.  Not that I don’t miss days and even occasionally several in a row, but I’ve gotten pretty good at keeping track and at pushing myself to get back to it if I’ve let it go

It’s rare now for an entire week to go by without at least one session of whatever practice or set of practices I’m doing and most weeks I manage at least three or four days.  The great weeks I get in six (I always allow for a day off as I feel even the good stuff needs a break).  But I still have spells when it’s less rather than more.

There’s a kind of push pull at work here.  At the moment it’s the chanting and some movement practices that feel so good they constantly pull me back on track.  But both things raise energy, open stuck places, and thereby set the stage for more unwinding.  Any time I practice 6-7 days a week during a week or two when I’m sleeping well and feeling good, the practices inevitably help to set off another round of unwinding.

While I want the unwinding to finish so you’d think I’d welcome each round, I’m pretty miserable when it goes crazy, especially from the lack of sleep it creates.  I’m regularly confronting the up and the down side of regular practice.  It works.  And in this case that’s both great and not so great…  I haven’t quite decided how many skips at this point arise from an unconscious dread of the down side…

A deep spiritual journey often has these up and down moments.  Sometimes the same practice contains elements of both the up and the down.  Sometimes a practice leads you into painful places or opens something that hurts for a while before it gets better.  I harp on this one a bit, but I run into so many people who don’t know this spiritual road curves into shadows and down into valleys of dark nights as well as giving you peace and balance and higher consciousness, an occasional reminder seems good 🙂

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Levels of opening

Three monks chanting in Lhasa, 1993

Three monks chanting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It’s been over a month now that I’ve been regularly chanting.  First time in quite a while I’ve had a regular chanting or meditation practice.  I’ve done a bunch of those 21 day meditations in recent years and I’ve done a couple of 40 day practices, but it’s been years since such a practice has stuck.

A lot has changed in my body since the days when meditation was a daily practice.  In fact, some of the change is due to the movement practices I’ve done to balance energy and open flow instead of meditating.

One of the blessings of the long-term sorting out of my muscles and their steely impersonation of body armor has been that as they open, I experience many things about practices differently and learn nuances I’m not sure I’d have noted without the change.

Since my appointment with Hanna, the muscles have been unwinding and the usual sleep deprivation and headaches have ensued, which has led to missing days of chanting here and there and occasionally two in a row.  I’ve changed the chants since I first started, beginning each time with the lovingkindness chant and then singing the Gayatri Mantra and Om Shanti Om.

The Gayatri, among other important impacts, opens the heart.  Om Shanti Om is chanted for peace and I find it opens my heart.  The lovingkindness chant also brings me into a big heart space.  Chanting these every day helped immeasurably to calm my distress in the wake of the election.  At first, if I missed a day I went right back to feeling panicky, then as soon as I chanted again, calm returned.

After a couple of weeks the peace settled in and I could miss a day without any big change.  When sleep deprivation, headaches and missing days of chanting hit all at once, I noted that I could hold the peace through one missed day but a second tipped me back into unease and anxiety.  I’ve also been learning anxiety is often a side effect of sleep deprivation for me, not as intense as the “oh no that thing can’t be president” panic, but noticeable.  And it too is soothed away by chanting.

While I chant I feel so much more energy moving through me than I’ve ever felt from the same practices before.  Channels and pathways opened as the muscles released and in so many areas I can now feel energy flowing through.  I feel the power of the chanting more than ever.  I feel it changing me.

Between the chanting and the releases Hanna helped to achieve it’s been a time of realizations and movement forward.  After a long time of receiving “wait” messages, I’ve heard the time to wait is ending.

In the meantime I love the slow awakening of feeling and the subtle ways in which my practices change as I grow.  I’m ever more aware of how much tight muscles stop the flow and reduce how much I feel when I do yoga or meditate or chant or …  All the hard work…  so worth it!

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And the healing takes another leap

English: "Visualization of the Heart Chak...

Photo credit: Wikipedia

I haven’t had any body work since the appointment last spring with Hanna and Larry, who powerfully lifted a big piece of ancestral cement from the stuff in my head.*  So it was a great treat to have my mother offer to pay for an appointment and to get a treatment with Hanna yesterday.

Bye Bye Wooden

animated-trees_edited

As always, a lot moved and many interesting things happened.  She spent a lot of time working on my head and at one point as she worked I sensed “ancestral”, something released and I had a crazy image of an animated tree (just like an animated tree “character” in Wizard101) flying up and out of my head.

After the appointment she mentioned working on an area with a lot of tension in my face and feeling it relax.  It wasn’t until I was driving away that I remembered how often I’ve applied “wooden” to the muscles in my face I’ve felt are an ancestral legacy and thought “wooden” about their expressions in photos or how my face feels.  Suddenly I got the animated flying tree as representing the staunchly tense ancestors and I knew that piece was released.

As always, the release has not led to the instant opening of all remaining knotted muscles, but a fair bit came out in the appointment and in the massive unwinding which started up a few hours later, I could tell it was working on a whole new level from where it was the day before.

Loving Them Anyway

After the floating tree, as she continued to work on my head, I was suddenly taken to another ancestral piece I recently mentioned about having slave owners in the family.  While chewing on this issue I’d already realized there’s a much more current piece to it, which has been kind of the ignored elephant in the room for me:  the bigotry of my mother’s mother and sister.

I adored my grandmother (the only grandparent I ever knew as my parents lost the other three as children) and most of the time nothing in our interactions brought up her racist viewpoint.  But it was there and, while I tried periodically to talk her into changing her mind, mostly I tried not to think about it as the confusion between my love for her and my dislike of her opinion seemed too confusing to resolve.

I’ve written occasionally about my aunt with whom I had a conflicted relationship on many levels so being mad at her for her narrow-minded views (she and her rich, Republican friends were the types who dissed pretty much every group other than rich WASP Presbyterians and Episcopalians…) was easier.  But still complicated.

They’re both long dead but I’ve carried the unresolved conflict all these years.  As bits and pieces of the story floated to mind while Hanna worked, I thought about that conflict and the degree to which it left an uneasy place inside.  Which led to contemplating loving someone but seeing a flaw that big and figuring out what to do about the contradiction.

And suddenly as Hanna worked, I knew it’s a gift the Universe gives us to present us with family members whom we love but who are bigots or alcoholics or unreliable, etc.  We love them and despise them but most of us can’t quite let go because of the love and family ties.  Really, it’s what a spiritual life is always calling us to do — love everyone unconditionally.

What an opportunity we’re offered in these conflicted relationships of love and hate all mixed up.   I don’t see loving as requiring that you hang around.  If someone is too toxic for you, you can love the divine spirit from afar.  But seeing the flaws and loving anyway is a great spiritual endeavor.  Once I could see the gift in that, I realized I don’t have to resolve the conflict, I just have to let the love win.

They were who they were and I loved them with confusion but they’re gone and I’m still here, not sharing their views.  [Not sure how my mom sidestepped her family’s view but she and my dad taught me to treat all people of all races, religions, etc. with equal dignity and thanks to their guidance and examples, that’s what stuck].  I felt a big sense of release as I understood the lesson of love and the gift these conflicts offer.

The Jagged and the Strong

In this unwinding process I’ve been regularly aware of a pattern moving from the sphenoid in my head to my feet, particularly on the left side.  Frequently something opens in my head and a while later some muscles open in my pelvis, knee, ankle or foot.

Hanna wound up working down one of those patterns and commented later about how jagged it is.  She’s mentioned the jagged bit before.  This time she also mentioned that all around it are patterns that are strong and straight (I forgot to ask whether she meant energetic patterns or muscle patterns or both) and prepared to help as it works itself out.

Before we started she talked about my self care having been important in all this and when she talked about these strong patterns I realized all the years of yoga, all the work with creating and doing my movement work, receiving body work of many sorts and doing spiritual practices have built strong supports which are now integral to how I live and heal.  Picture me patting myself on the shoulder 🙂

Heart Chakra

One piece she mentioned at the end was a pattern at the base of heart chakra, pushing on my liver and moving up into the shoulder on the other side.  By that time I was a little dazed and I didn’t manage to ask questions.

Many practitioners over the years have referred to a stuck pattern at heart level, of “protecting heart” posture, etc.  There’s been a lot of work done and a lot of opening but I’ve been aware something is still left.  Not sure whether that’s part of what she was working on.

I also have a sense all the chants I’ve been doing which aim at heart chakra are moving stuff in there…

And it goes on

I dream of the day I report this is over — the post will be titled “UNWOUND!!!!”  But today is another one of those progress reports involving a nice leap forward but the process still unfolding…


*After pouring tens of thousands of dollars into the process of healing over the course of many years, I can’t afford it very often any more…

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What lies beneath?

3x-great-grandfather-gallaher

Whenever I find myself being deeply emotionally affected by some external circumstance like the election, I know the situation has to be touching on something in me.  Along with chanting for peace and lovingkindness I’ve been watching the ebb and flow of emotions while chanting and also observing the impact of the spewing going on on FB, wondering what my reactions are telling me.

Starting before the election, another major phase of unwinding in my face has been going on.  [The glued-together stuff at the root is finally separating enough I can pick out some specific muscles!]  Whenever muscles are opening there’s a fair chance some old issue, whether personal or ancestral or past life (or all of the above), is going to be released.

The way the Universe operates, I figure there’s a pretty good chance the issues from the election and whatever I’m moving through in the healing process are related.  As I’ve contemplated I’ve looked at a few things and come up with one surprise issue I’ll be exploring.

Several times the Gayatri Mantra has produced a big emotional reaction so I looked up a translation.  I know it’s used often for peace and that it opens the heart, but the specific meaning of the words doesn’t seem to stick with me.  I found a lovely translation and discussion on this site:

OM BUHR, BHUVA, SWAHA
OM TAT SAVITUR VARENYAM
BHARGO DEVASYA DHEEMAHI
DHIYO YONAHA PRACHODAYAT”

We meditate on the glory of the Creator;
Who has created the Universe;
Who is worthy of Worship;
Who is the embodiment of Knowledge and Light;
Who is the remover of Sin and Ignorance;
May He open our hearts and enlighten our Intellect

While I don’t find anything there that raises a specific personal issue, I can see that the tone and purpose of the chant is a big contradiction to what’s going on in the U.S. right now.  I figure it’s hitting right in the place where fear is pulling me away from an open heart…

The big place where I’ve been very emotional involves the horrible things Trump has said about people of other races and religions, especially his commentary on Blacks.  Ridiculing the Black Lives Matter movement and talking about “go back to Africa” hurts my heart.  One evening as I explored inward about what might be evoking such a strong response, I suddenly saw my family tree in my mind’s eye.

You see my 3X great grandfather and his son, my 2X great grandfather (plus his many siblings) owned slaves.  When I first encountered a copy of a will from 1837 in my grandfather’s effects, I was so young I really didn’t know what the bequests that seemed to hand off people meant.  Nor did any of us know what relation the testator had to us.

As an adult I recalled seeing the will and realized somebody in my family had been a slaveholder.  I’ve grappled with guilt over it off and on ever since but ultimately I’ve had to realize I wasn’t there, I didn’t convince anyone to do it and I’m not responsible for what they did.  I’ve always aimed to treat every human I encounter with dignity regardless of race, creed or religion and I don’t quite know what to do about what my ancestors did 170-200+ years ago,

Eventually I did enough research to know the maker of the will was my 3X great grandfather.  I’ve stood on the property he owned in Tennessee and I’ve seen the graves of both him and his son.  What mixed feelings I have about them.

It was moving to see the piece of land my 3X great grandfather purchased around 1800.  It’s hard to describe how it felt to stand not only at his grave but also my 3X great grandmother and another set of 3X great grandparents whose daughter, my 2X great grandmother, married my 2X great grandfather.

They’re my family.  They moved from Scotland to Ireland when England offered property and then a few generations later my 4X great grandfather moved to Pennsylvania.  Eastern Tennessee came next, then a little west to Knoxville.  Eventually branches of this family were involved in every major surge to the west in American history.  Part of me is proud that these poor farmers had the courage to keep picking up and moving forward to seek a better life.

Part of me wants to travel back in time so I can hop up and down in fury and demand what on earth they were thinking???  How could they be so cruel?  I wind up in this ambivalent space between loving them because they’re my family (and much of the courage and conviction I carry I know I owe to them) and despising them because they lacked humanity.

A piece, then, involves my ambivalence.  But I also have a deep sense I’m feeling something that has to do with those ancestors and how they felt or now feel about slavery and their part in it.  I’ll be doing some exploring in meditation and ceremony about the ancestral piece and possibly it’s time for a check-in with Hanna for some of her excellent healing.

How about you — if you’re feeling strong emotions around the election of Trump, have you found any of those feelings arise from personal issues? Are you aware of the source of these deep reactions to xenophobia, bigotry, discrimination, misogyny, etc.?

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Heart on my forehead

Linda over at litebeing chronicles issued a challenge this months to write a post “celebrating your unique essence and energy.”  I’m not sure whether this post expresses my uniqueness, but it certainly wanders down the bizarre trail my life has been following for some years and I kind of think this thing on my forehead may turn out to be more central to who I am than I can now imagine.

The last couple of months the unwinding process in my head has been both challenging and exciting.  The piece I’ve been particularly interested in involves the muscles in my forehead.

Over the last couple of months the muscles around my third eye have increasingly bulged out as a result of all the untwisting and movement in the muscles behind my eyes. Somewhere along the way I noticed the shape they are assuming looks more and more like a heart.  I’m not much on taking selfies and I had quite a time getting shots of my own forehead in the right light for it to show up.  Hope you can see what I’m seeing.

UPDATE 11/12/16:  I also have no talent for (or interest in) art programs like Paint, but I kept fiddling around and more or less managed to draw around the bulges to make it easier to see, so I’ve added the photo with drawing.

Over the course of lots of posts I’ve told the story of a shaman telling me there was a big wound in my maternal line and I needed to go back seven generations to find the source. Using meditation to reach back, I found an ancestor witch burned at the stake and a distressed daughter who shut down the “sight” that had been our lineage–for all succeeding generations.

I’ve been through several stages and types of healing, from using long distance Reiki to send healing back in time, to creating a ceremony for a group to heal ancestral issues, and then creating a private ceremony to heal this issue, to having major sessions with healers to address the many ways this issue tied up the muscles in my head.

Throughout, the notion that I’m from a line of Seers meandered vaguely through my consciousness.  The more the muscles unwound, the more I noticed a good portion of the twisted up stuff involved a stranglehold on my third eye and I could see how well that situation served the ancestral “curse” of shutting down the sight for all who came after.

I’m fascinated to see this heart around my third eye as the muscles which created a squeeze blocking the area are slowly unwinding.  Although I can make guesses as to what this means, no big insight has struck.  Fun to follow its progress though…

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