Free Flow on Tending the Garden

I am allowing myself to write whatever wants to flow out of me for this blog, in service to your healing path. I feel idealess in Seattle. My mind is blank. Let’s see what comes out…

Music is healing because it speaks to the heart. We all know this. We all know how a song can validate the sorrow you feel, inspire joy, bring inspiration, make you feel alive. That alive feeling a song gives you is how you know you are connected to your heart, aligned to your soul, whatever you want to call it. Yet when it comes to making key decisions in life about relationships, jobs, homes, the big stuff…why is it we tend to ignore that feeling of aliveness, suppress it, deny it and instead look reasonably at the big huge life choice to analyze what is the “right thing”?

The actual right place to use reason and logic is in the daily moments…but before I get to that I want to say that listening to that feeling of aliveness is always most important when making the big decisions in life because that feeling tells you that it is the journey you are meant to be on…

This does not mean the journey that makes you feel most alive will guarantee protection from getting hurt, protection from divorce, loss, or failure if you want to judge it. Pain and loss are all part of the correct path for your soul to learn all it is here to learn. The alive feeling tells you the correct soul path to be on for all of your learning, healing, and growing. Sometimes that path does end in a terrible loss forever or for a stint. Sometimes the loss is due to your own behavior and sometimes it is not. All is meant to be when you listen to the aliveness because it is meant to be for you to learn what you are meant to learn.

I think about how my mom went through a brutal chemo journey battling cancer before the disease took her human life. I think back to the diagnosis, the suffering, the fight, the pain, the loss and it tears me up inside. Yet at the same time, I know her soul was meant to go through the experience of pain, loss, and hurt. How do I know this? It’s that feeling of aliveness I get inside when I tap into the memories. I feel how she was meant to experience the cancer chemo journey. The feeling of aliveness can be happy or sad, filled with grief and pain or levity and light, just like a happy or sad song brings out that feeling of happy or sad aliveness.

The spiritual path that I am on stems from the belief that the soul needs to traverse through pain and loss as much as pleasure and gain in order to grow and evolve and experience new experiences. You may not feel the aliveness in this belief and if not, no worries. This is my offering to you if you want. The comfort and security we all seek can be found in knowing that pain and loss are meant to be as much as pleasure and gain.

This is not to justify needless abuse on any level from personal to cultural, from parent to partner to government. It simply means that while we traverse through the abuse we grow as souls. To be able to change society for the better, abolish racism, sexism, xenophobia, homophobia and every form of prejudice, the soul must be strong and soul strength does not come out of the blue. Soul strength is learned through facing very scary and unjust experiences.

Life is a weird paradox of having to traverse through suffering to reduce suffering.

I think about how we are in romantic relationships too. The marry for life thing. The one love forever thing. I don’t believe it is the only route to take but this route is a work of art because love and being in a relationship are two very separate things. To keep love alive in a life long or long term relationship requires work and tending just like you have to work in a garden to make sure it bears fruit, flowers, vegetables and not just a patch of weeds. The work you put into a relationship may be filled with loss just as much as losing the relationship.

In a relationship you lose your full freedom, you lose a sense of control, you lose time, you must face your insecurities and lose that armor that protects you. You may also lose the relationship itself. Both sides of loss are growth for the soul. What gets broken in relationship gets healed in relationship. Over and over and over and over.

I think about the abuse I endured as a child and how hard my healing path has been, how much of myself I have lost due to the abuse others did to me and I know I would not have become a therapist had I not endured those hard times. This is that paradox again. It is my calling to be a healer and going through pain is what brought me home to my calling and cultivated my soul to be a good therapist. Now, I thank my past because it made me who I am today and I am happy with who I am today. I am living my calling.

The way that you narrate loss is much more important than the loss itself. Narrating pain and loss as bad and to be avoided will only make you more fearful of pain and loss. Telling yourself pain and loss is bad will only make you inauthentically behave with yourself and loved ones to avoid causing pain and this inauthenticity will set up a ton of resentment that you will suppress into your shadow, cutting yourself off from your feminine energy. The energy of embodiment and feeling within all of us.

People pleasing, passive aggression, enabling others so they can avoid pain will all lead to the soul shrinking into the shadow while the ego learns to be functional only when things are going well, easy, flowing, expanding. Then, when a painful time forces itself into being, the ego crumbles and cannot endure, learns helplessness, becomes anxious, neurotic, and perhaps even cruel. I think the phenomenon of ego becoming disconnected from true self has much to do with how pain and loss is seen as bad, the true self is seen as bad, and all power is seen as existing outside of the self.

True power always comes from deep within.

I think about the pandemic right now and how hard it is for many people to adjust to not being able to flow, get pleasure, expand, experience the fun. If you have not built up a tolerance and appreciation for pain and loss and learned how to endure and grow through it then you will suffer too much and all sorts of mishaps will birth from the fear. Weird beliefs birth from the fear of loss and pain such as beliefs in a fiery hell or conspiracies of doom or any belief that encapsulates the fear into one externalized power source holding you captive.

The deeper truth I feel is that we all are connected to a true source of power within. The divine is within all of us. Our soul essence is within all of us. And the only way we wake up to this inner source of transpersonal power, wisdom and love is to have the external world hurt or restrict or deny us because then we are forced to go within. When not forced to go within the ego will always look outwardly to get everything it wants. Money, sex, attention, food, drugs, success, a thin body, accolades, pleasure, a partner, a career, a family. The ego when not connected to soul seeks everything on the outside and forgets the inside is where all the power, security, love, and wisdom originates.

This is not to deny that when outside forces deny you equality and rights due to your race, gender, age, sexual orientation, ableism, body size, and any form or prejudice, that you are dealing with a whole other layer of pain and loss that makes your journey harder than the those who culture gives privilege to in the toxic system we are working to heal.

This also is not to deny that we are here to have external experiences, relationships, families, jobs, and all the things this earthly life offers. And some people are more externally driven in an authentic way too.

I speak more about balance. What about the inside?

The inside is much more vast, deep, and endless. From the ego self we expand into the soul essence, then the group soul essence, then the universal essence, nature essence, archetypal essence, divine essence and the essence of oneness. You go within and wind up nestled in the oneness where you can feel your self always connected to the whole like a single cell of the liver feeling itself as part of an entire human body. You look outside of yourself and you get a very short term limited experience whether it is one of pleasure and gain or loss and pain, whether it is one of abuse or love, justice or a crime against humanity. The outside short term experiences are the fodder but not the be all end all.

The experiences on the outside are supposed to wake you up to the inside of you to develop your inside experiences. Your true self and connection with all of life, however you call it. When you wake up to your soul and the divine inside you feel the true power coursing through you. It’s that feeling of aliveness. The same aliveness you feel from a song is the aliveness you can feel drumming up the courage to protest against racism, ask the one you love to be yours, start your own business, escape an abusive situation, or any circumstance large or small, awful or awesome.

To narrate pain and loss as fodder to awaken your true self and divine power within brings growth, healing, and expansion. That feeling of aliveness is the most natural feeling and key to the inner awakening journey. We have no guarantee in this life other than we will die and the soul will leave the body forever. The little losses lead to the big loss and loss is prevalent throughout life, yet all of the losses are of the physical form and not the essence.

The essence remains fixed, eternal and always transforming and shape shifting. The essence lives on. The essence evolves and expands and recycles and moves from one body to the next, one incarnation to the next, one experience to the next in an infinite procession of love. You may not feel this to be true and that’s alright, these are only words on a page. I feel the aliveness in this truth every day and this is why I am so spiritual. It is the feeling of aliveness for being a soul coursing through me each morning when I rise that makes me feel happy inside.

This is why you want to listen to the feeling of aliveness inside of you at all times concerning every important choice in your life. It is your internal compass that assures you are following your soul path and not putting your soul in the shadow while letting your ego run the show. When ego runs the show it will try to keep you safe from pain and loss and your life and sense of self will stagnate or be on repeat, go into depression or feel like an ennui.

The place to use reason and logic is more in the day to day tasks. Get on the mat whether you feel like it or not. Brush your teeth whether you feel like it or not. Regulate your nervous system whether you feel like it or not. Do your practices and do what you need to do whether you feel like it or not because these daily actions will support the feeling of aliveness and your soul direction in life. Pull out the weeds. Fertilize the soil. Water the vegetation. Don’t follow your feelings on tending to the garden. Follow the feeling of aliveness in choosing what you want your garden to be.

 

I Love Saturn

I have not written a blog in a long while and hoping to return to more regular posting, especially during these days of the pandemic. This blog is inspired by a conversation with a client about the benefit of Saturn.

Saturn is ruling our lives collectively right now through restriction and limitation with the pandemic and through the movement of dismantling racism and the toxic patriarchal structures. Saturn is in your natal chart effecting you on a personal level too. In this blog, I want to discuss Saturn from a personal healing perspective.

I want to share my perspective on Saturn as he has been transiting my north node Capricorn for years now which is like Saturn riding Saturn because Capricorn is ruled by Saturn.  I also have Jupiter in Capricorn. Wherever you have a Capricorn planet or node you are heavily influenced by Saturn’s way. Wherever transiting Saturn is in your natal chart is also showing you where and how Saturn is influencing.

Saturn is the creator and upholder of structure. The original structure of this Universe we play in is made of of time and space. These bodies we inhabit are also structures that allow our expansive eternal essence to play the game of being limited by birth and death within time and space. The structure itself is Saturn’s domain. He rules restriction, limitation and he governs the laws of nature.

Think about how nature has consistent patterns always in operation. Night and day. Rain and sun. Creatures eating creatures. Decay, death, birth. The patterns of the body’s breath, digestion, and hormonal regulation. These inherent patterns of nature are ruled by Saturn and nature goes way deeper than the physical level we can detect with the five senses. The patterns of the soul moving to the other side with the death of the body and the laws that govern the other side are nature too. Nature and Spirit are not separate categories. They are the same and ruled by laws and structure. This is Saturn’s domain.

Saturn rules the natural structures of the Universe, seen and unseen, that operate automatically without conscious awareness. On a healing level in your psyche, Saturn rules your sense of discipline, consistency, dedication, restraint, discernment, ambition (or evolution) and how you stick to the routines and structures of your life.

In your natal chart Saturn rules a sign in a house. My Saturn is in Gemini in house five. Whatever house is ruled by Capricorn is also Saturnian. I have Saturn ruling my house twelve. You may also have other planets ruled by Capricorn, hence by Saturn.  I have Jupiter and my north node ruled by Capricorn. For me, Saturn plays a huge role in my soul purpose, creative expression, expansion, and my relationship with the collective unconscious. Saturn plays different roles for different folks, some more than others.

I consider myself very Saturnian…now. I used to not be. I used to be all flow, never finishing what I start, having no discipline or consistency or structure. I did what I felt like doing whenever I could and always dwelled in my feelings (anyone with a Cancer south node will relate to this). But I am no longer the spiritual care-taking mother feeling my way through each moment and floating above ground. I am now the pragmatic grounded father with set routines I follow each day, a firm schedule, and a very structured existence focused on growing a metaphorical lush garden. I find balance in the flow and in my feelings in between my routines. My feelings now have a strong container, good boundaries and a realistic lens to look through.

Saturn has turned me into a happy person and this happiness is an internal sense of being, independent of external circumstances. This is why I love Saturn…it’s all his doing, through me and for me, in service to this little ego known as Michelle and in service to my expansive soul seeking Saturnian structure in this lifetime.

Natal Saturn in Gemini house five is where Saturn shows me how difficult it can be for me to spontaneously communicate creatively and in my self expression…how I tend to take life very seriously… how I tend to lose focus creatively and become scattered….and also how I prefer to work on a few different projects at once and always have a love/hate relationship with my creative works. Saturn here also gives me serious dedication to painting and writing. I don’t see my creative expressions as a hobby but more of a job, as Saturn is very serious and work oriented in light hearted playful house five.

I used the serious energy of Saturn to learn (Saturn is  about learning over a long period of time, baby steps up the mountain) how to finish creative projects through making a focused, dedicated and consistent effort and by discerning the best projects to actualize. I learned how to create a routined time structure to stick to while taking the risk to spontaneously express my true self through my creativity. Saturn says, “scared? Do it anyways. Push yourself.”

This is how I led the scared animal (Ego) to the safe house (Saturn).

When I wrote my first book I dedicated three hours a day, six days a week for two years to writing and completing it and I did. No matter if I wanted to write or not, I did it. This trained my ego and brought me the result of a completed book. Both my newly trained ego and the completed book brought much more contentment than the fleeting pleasure of following how I feel in the moment. Saturn teaches you how to obtain a deeper more fortified fulfillment based on your soul longings versus always being trapped by the moment to moment nature of your moods and feelings.

I say trapped because when we are always at the whim of passing moods, we don’t accomplish the broader desires of the soul that take time, patience, restraint, ambition, structure, and dedication to accomplish. Saturn helps us achieve soul fulfillment and purpose.

Saturn takes away the cookie. When I wrote my book I did not get my cookies each day of hanging out with friends, going on excursions, lazing around or whatever my passing mood wanted to do with those three hours. The cookie is a metaphor for what your passing mood craves in the moment just to feel good, or to stuff away painful feelings, or to avoid what needs to be done for a larger goal. Saturn does not hand out cookies on the daily but he does reward your true self in the long run, if you dedicate to his ways.

Saturn took away lots of pleasurable moments yet rewarded me with a completed book and the ability to actualize my creative goals. I would say writing this book was my first initiation of integrating Saturn.

Transiting Saturn continued influencing me. This is when I made my next long term dedication. I committed to hot yoga four times a week. Before this commitment my yoga and exercise routines were always intermittent, inconsistent, and sporadic. My relationship with my body was broken due to the traumas of my past, my mind lived separate from my body and I judged my body constantly. I wanted to commit to yoga to heal through the practice.

I learned from my book writing experience how to do what I don’t feel like doing over a two year stretch of time. Saturn teaches you discipline if you make a serious commitment to him. My discipline with writing made my dedication to yoga easier. I went to class for two years in a row at least four times a week whether I wanted to or not. Many years later and I am still doing yoga (now a home practice) at least four days a week. My body has changed dramatically. My mind is now yoked to my body. I no longer judge my body.

I love being in my body now and this is why I love Saturn. Through dedication, consistency and the practice, I am nestled happily in my skin.

The next huge and perhaps biggest Saturn training of all is when I went on the autoimmune paleo diet. I have to live on this diet for life to keep my disease in remission and the disease I have is pretty awful so the motivation is huge. This diet is beyond hard. I had to let go and grieve all the foods I loved, eating out, eating to socialize, and eating to celebrate. I can only eat certain meats, vegetables, fruits, and fats. My food range is extremely limited.  I have been forced to transcend a very intense food addiction. Yet I made my dedication to Saturn because eating this diet keeps my disease in remission and the happiness of remission far outweighs the happiness of eating the foods I can no longer enjoy.

I love Saturn because I have liberated myself from a life long food addiction and it feels so wonderful to be free. I love Saturn because now my body is healthy, happy, healed and reconnected with my mind. I love Saturn because trauma no longer lives in this body. I love Saturn because I can accomplish my goals and not procrastinate or make excuses. I love Saturn because I love my routines that provide me with daily comfort and joy. I honor limitation, restriction, restraint, patience, dedication, discipline, discernment and the contentment that stems from accomplishment.

I am only sharing a few tidbits here about Saturn as not to turn this blog into a novel though it already is probably too long. I share my personal story in service to inspiring you to embrace Saturn in your chart and in your life.

Saturn is very structure that allows us to be infinite spiritual beings having a limited human experience. He forces us to overcome our limitations so we can grow into the best version of ourselves even under the most painful and restrictive of circumstances.

In shadow, Saturn is rigid, miserly, pessimistic, tyrannical, and toxic like the patriarchal systems of society that marginalize, abuse, and control people. Every planet has the shadowed side when tossed into imbalance. In your personal life this could look like being too structured and rigid and marginalizing aspects of yourself like your feelings and desires too much so you can stay safe or be rewarded with your status and accomplishments.

In balance, Saturn asks you to look at the long term and larger tapestry of your life. Being in the present moment is always the place to be yet we can do this as we also dedicate to creating, over time, the life we choose for ourselves and the world. Saturn’s accomplishments take time, patience, dedication, restraint, and hard work to build slowly over years.

You can even bring Saturn into the feelings, such as when you understand how trust is built over time through practice and not just experienced with the intention of feeling it. Same goes with self love, self worth, and self esteem. Saturn builds these feeling qualities within the psyche over time through various healing practices we do and not through the mind making intentions alone. Words may initiate and activate but only actions create change. Saturn is in the doing.

I love relaxing into Saturn’s way of being and he is big part of my healing path and how I guide others on their healing path, especially in healing attachment wounds and forming self love. The person I am today would shock the person I was ten years ago. The person I am today is happier, healthier and more balanced. Saturn is the safe house for my scared animal too, on the daily. When I get anxious I trust it will transmute on the mat and it always does. When I feel afraid, I know saying my invocations will bring peace. I soothe my nervous system through practice and I am my own safe house. I hope these words may bring some Saturnian inspiration to you.

 

 

Telehealth and Pandemic Reflections…

This blog is inspired by a conversation I had on video last night with one of my closest friends. Lysette Herrera is a psychologist who has been seeing clients for many years now in Seattle, New York City and currently in Portland where she has worked for a group practice the past chunk of years. She sees mostly teenagers and has formed strong bonds with her clients whom she has been working with long term.

Upon switching to tele-health, like many therapists, she was nervous and unsure how sessions would feel over a video versus in person. We tend to see technology in a negative light and to think that screen connection is less intimate. Yet to her surprise, Lysette found her sessions to be very intimate. She discovered clients having an easier time being vulnerable when sharing from the comfort of their home and she has met many of her client’s pets too, which as we all know, are important family members.

Lysette has found that video sessions are not more intimate, per se, but differently intimate. I have found this to be true too. Lysette named the experience I have had this past week using tele-health. I too have experienced that differently intimate experience of connecting from our homes. The power of place is real. Home is a safe place and a comfortable place. When we feel safe and comfortable we tend to open up more and this allows therapy to go deeper.

Lysette mentioned that another positive aspect is that a certain amount of formality is shed through video sessions. This speaks to how I feel the pandemic is stripping away the persona and the formality in us all. The roles we put on in order to communicate are changing. Our humanity and vulnerability are coming more to the surface. As a result, sessions feel more powerful. Add the video element, allowing both therapist and client to connect from home, and the intimacy does feel very differently powerful.

I feel no less of a connection through having video sessions. The screen does not get in the way. I have not asked my clients about their experience yet but I imagine it is different for each person. Some people are more sensitive to screens and technology and others may actually prefer it. I can only say for myself, in many ways, I prefer video sessions because I enjoy the differently intimate experience that it creates. I also enjoy working from home.

I do miss going to my office and having a special physical space to see clients. My office is filled with crystals, cards, incense, and the vibe I work hard to create. I share my office with a friend and we share office space with another therapist we rent from. I love our physical space and location. The three of us create a very harmonious healing environment. Video sessions do not replace the in person experience but now I now know that tele-health is complimentary and not just a “plan B”.

Since the pandemic I have been spending a lot of time connecting with friends through video as well. My days in quarantine are spent sitting in my special chair where I video everyone. In-between connecting with clients and loved ones I do yoga, walk, get groceries, watch Netflix, meditate, read, journey, reflect, and pull cards. I am finding my new routine. I empathize with everyone who lives alone needing to find a new routine in the aloneness.

Living alone through this time is very surreal. All of my connection with others is through video except sometimes I take a walk with a friend nearby. I don’t have any physical touch, nobody to “prepare for the worst” with, nobody to be with in my home. Solitude takes on a new form that often feels too hard or like it’s too much. Anxiety can creep in. There is a lot to manage being alone. Therapeutic skills are extra vital as is keeping a routine.

I am beyond thankful I can continue to see clients through video as it is grounding to be of service. I am thankful to be able to continue to work. Many cannot and surviving monetarily is a real concern for many. This pandemic is going to force us to find new ways to be resourceful and take care of each other. It is forcing us to care more about community and our neighbors and not just for the self and immediate family. I think of my father who is all by himself in his eighties. I think of the service industry people out of work right now. The chain reaction of the virus will create much needed structural change on many levels.

Being connected through video is my life’s blood right now and I am learning to embrace the screen more through this challenging time. My intention is to highlight the positive to bring balance to the more prominent negative lens that tele-health and video connecting is somehow inferior or less connected.

During these challenging times tele-health is needed more than ever and my hope is that it becomes more of a norm in society. My dream would be for our licenses to be national or even global. For as therapists we are trained to work with humans, not just humans in one area.

 

 

Mercury Retrograde Blog

Mercury is about to go retrograde on the 17th in Pisces and is now in the shadow phase in Aquarius so it’s a good time to begin reflecting from an Aquarius place. Mercury retrograde is all about reflecting on who you have been, understanding why and how you have impacted others. It’s a time to understand by looking into the past. Sure, communication gets a bit wonky, computers mess up, and travel plans may find complications but that’s just the side effect of this powerful cycle we go through three times every year. Powerful because Mercury helps us gain easy access to inner awareness and meaning.

Seeing the big picture of how your personal story is also a collective and archetypal story is the Aquarius shadow phase protocol. We all go through similar experiences at the universal root but we express the universal in a very individual way. Everyone wants love, security, happiness, and freedom. Everyone goes through loss and gain, pain and pleasure, life and death in very archetypal ways. Our little life stories are also collective classic tales. As an Aquarius friend of mine always says when speaking of her personal life, “it’s a story as old as time.” What part of the universal story are you living in?

I am living in the universal tale of building resilience with my life’s purpose. I am living the collective story of learning how to surrender and “relinquish the fruit” through self-restraint with my autoimmune disease. I am in a classic dark night of the soul story as I grieve my mother and family system. I am in the collective story of standing in my personal power to create a life aligned with my true self. I have the privilege to live in thriving stories and I do not take my privilege for granted. Not everyone has the opportunity to live aligned with their inner truth.

I see from a zoomed out perspective that the loss and discomfort I experience daily is building me into a the new me who is still forming, which is the classic story of self rebirth.  I call out to joy and more light hearted times as the dark night turns into the grey night as I make my way back into the daylight. I see how I have avoided love with stories that aren’t true for me anymore but now appear as masks covering a deeper fear of intimacy that I open myself to experiencing, which is the universal story of heart healing.  This is my Aquarian shadow analysis I share to give an example.

Moving into the full retrograde in Pisces…it is time to dive into the sea and feel. Pisces is the unconscious where most of self actually lives even though ego likes to think it’s much bigger. In truth ego is a tiny chihuahua and the unconscious is a vast sea of who we are filled with dormant potential at all times. Pisces is the nebulous feeling of oneness and connection. Pisces is compassion and unconditional love. In shadow, Pisces is the escape and avoidance of feeling through addiction and dissociation.

With Pisces, you either feel your truth or you escape feeling your truth. Pisces truth is rooted in love and speaks from a place of wisdom. Wisdom is knowledge mixed with love and experience. When you have wisdom you understand yourself, your loved ones, and life in light and dark and can make peace with life’s vicissitudes and losses. You can let go and accept what is. Pisces at its best is the serenity prayer: Universe (God, Goddess, Nature, Spirit, Being, etc) grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

As we dive into the unconscious sea of feeling it’s like searching for the treasure chest buried on the ocean floor. You cannot will the treasure chest into being. You must swim and feel and follow your intuition and see what happens and trust the strange non-linear process.

Ego must relinquish control and arrogance and be willing to meet the truth of the soul that says, “this is what I need, this is who I am, this is what I truly long for, this is who I truly love, this is what really hurts, this is what needs to be released and forgiven, this is what’s leaving, this is what must be done,” on and on. The treasure is found when ego is ready to find it. The wisdom is gained when the heart is ready to receive it.

If you want to brave the adventure and use this retrograde fully, make an intention, say an invocation, do a ritual, it can be playful and spontaneous or elaborate and thoughtfully crafted. Say in your own words, “Universe, Mercury, Pisces, true self take me into the sea of my being and show me the way, reveal the wisdom I need to see, help me to let go and embrace the new.”

Pisces is also about endings. Completion. Wholeness. What is ending in your life or needs to end? A way of being? A way you have identified with yourself (I am like this, I am like that)? A relationship? A phase of life? A job? A habit? This retrograde will show you all you need to understand in your heart.

The water signs (Scorpio, Pisces, Cancer) represent the realm of feeling and heart. Heart is the core translator of true self or soul. Heart reveals to us what we need to know through feelings.

There is a difference between feelings and emotions. Reacting to the constant borage of stimulation and relating in the external world is emotion. Going within to access your intuition and foundational sense of truth is feeling. To feel we must go within. To go within me must pull back from emotionally reacting to every little thing, person, and circumstance. Mercury retrograde asks us to take a break from the external emoting and to dive into the inner depths and feel the feelings living inside that don’t care about success or failure.

True self feelings, wisdom, and longings do not care about results. Only ego cares about outcomes. Results and outcomes are important too, ego is a necessary aspect of self but ego should not be driving the self. Soul should be driving the self. And to get soul into the driver’s seat we need to go within to discover soul’s longings, feelings, and wisdom continually because we are always changing. Nothing is static. This is why we retrograde on the regular. To go within and catch up with true self so we can stay aligned with who we are and live from a place of inner truth.

This alignment is fulfillment at its best. True self seeks to experience for the sake of experience and does not need the security of successful outcomes. For instance, your soul may want to experience deep intimacy with a romantic partner. Where as ego wants to make sure that the partnership lasts forever because ego needs validation of being loved and the security of not being alone; soul seeks only the experience of intimacy whether it lasts a lifetime or has an end.

True self is not fearful of loss or failure but actually embraces loss and failure as a tools for growth. During this retrograde we have the opportunity to let go of ego’s constant need for results, security, and validation in order to go deeper and discover the latest sense of true self and soul longings that are asking for expression out in the world. It is up to ego to bring latent aspects of self out of dormancy and to give permission for new life to take form. Pisces Mercury Retrograde Blessings to you all.

 

Reflections and 10 Skills for Healing Body Shame

This blog is intended for women. I am not excluding men, gender fluid or non-gendered identifying people from the topic if it resonates with your experience. No matter what, we all experience body shame and my focus on women is purely due to feeling called to be specific in this blog. Apologies in advance for any unconscious generalizations that could show up in these words. I do make conscious general commentary regarding women, based upon history.

The truth is, I don’t know one women who does not feel shame for her body on some level from severe to mild. I don’t know one woman who does not criticize her fat this or that, her wrinkled this or that, the sagging neck or jaw, the ass that isn’t there, the boobs that are no longer perky, the aging body, the fat body, the misshaped body, on and on…

Me included and I have worked hard to heal. My intention is to weave my personal commentary into this collective epidemic of body shame.

Shame rises up for the body for being too much, not enough, aging, and flawed for every woman I know because women have long been expected to be beautiful, sexual objects for a very long time. If women are not expected to show their beauty or flaunt sexuality than they are expected to hide it. This blog is not intended to be a history lesson. Just a quick summary of what we are all aware of…

The mind grabs hold of shame and turns it into different stories.

Some minds put off happiness, relationships, sex, or self love until the weight is lost, the health is fixed, the cleanse is complete, and until the body looks good according to the expectations we have been conditioned to believe are sexy, pretty, appropriate, and healthy.

This is not to say that there isn’t any truth in health and beauty expectations stemming from some root of reality. Perhaps some eyes like sinewy lines. Perhaps some excess fat creates health issues sometimes. But not for every pair of eyes or every body. Some bodies are perfectly healthy in a larger size than the expectation. Some shapes appear sexier when not conforming to the hour glass or twiggy versions. The variety is lost on us when expectations turn into rigid belief systems that constantly are conditioned generation after generation.

Another aspect is that women are conditioned to find the bulk of our self worth in what a man thinks of our value as a sexual and beautiful woman. This may not be the case as much in the LGBTQIA community though I imagine it runs through every community and may be less prominent in communities where people have been forced to break free from conditioned ideas of what is right and good, in order to survive. Being outcasted and treated unjustly, as in the LGBTQIA community, usually leads the soul to more depth, compassion, and openness in all ways.

I also want to mention that many men feel body shame too but their conditioned standards are much more forgiving on the whole from a collective perspective. A man can look distinguished with wrinkles and cute with a belly. Most men don’t wear make up to accentuate their face. Their handsomeness and sexual attractiveness has more leeway to be connected to their actions, mind, and presence, especially as they age. Just to give a picture here, imagine society with men dressed as women and women dressed and as men. You can get the point when you see this in your mind.

I like to think of famous awards ceremonies where the women are stuffed into dresses like beautifully wrapped Christmas presents hugging their curves up on stilts for heels sucking in their tummies while the men walk around in the same natural fitting tuxedo outfit and comfortable shoes like a bunch of penguins. I don’t mean to say anything negative about anyone walking down a red carpet. My commentary is purely on the social expectations of beauty and worth.

This isn’t to say men and women don’t have differences either. We do and it’s great. Differences are wonderful and needed. It’s ok to honor differences and not try to make every human being the exact same prototype. Variety is important and spices up life. I am only calling out where the balance has been lost between men and women. Where women are so conditioned to be pretty sexy objects that look like the female magazine model and men are given the grace to stray from the male magazine model and be handsome for a variety of physical expressions and his inner qualities too.

We are so conditioned that we have become the judge of ourselves, holding ourselves to impossible and rigid body expectations. Even if you don’t care about how you appear to others, you may still care how you appear to yourself without understanding that your preferences are not your own. You may be heavily conditioned by your mother, father, and friends as well by society, since birth and through the bloodline. The conditioning is everywhere and has been going on for thousands of years even if the specifics have changed a little through the generations.

Another way the mind can grab onto shame is to avoid the body. Many of us live dissociated from the body. We can’t feel the negative effects of shame hurting the body. We do not sense the toxic effects of putting too much or the wrong food and drink into the body or the negative effects of not getting the right nourishment and movement for the body. Avoidance can look like wearing only sweats and baggy clothes when really you would love to dress differently deep down. Sexual avoidance is very real and this can be conscious or unconscious. You can think you want sexual intimacy but unconsciously push it away at the same time.

Sexual expression is a fundamental human need and pleasure that has been exploited completely by religion and the media in a highly contrasted fashion. Either you should feel ashamed of your sexual body or you should look like Marylin Monroe and be a sexual kitten. The former is more about shaming your desires and the latter is more about shaming what you look like. The former is more about putting the moral soul above the amoral body and the latter is more about needing to fit into one very strict prototype of a body that is impossible for most people. Whether it be the Marylin body, the yoga body, the model body, the strict prototype is that we must be thin and either have curves or no fat.

I want to share that I know body shame more than any other shame. I have been obese in my lifetime and grew up the chubby kid who was always teased.  I put on a lot of extra weight due to coping with childhood trauma. I healed through the years and let the excess weight go and I am still many sizes above the expected beauty norm in our society. My body has been the place where psychological pain has expressed the most. Food addiction became my escape hatch and this is another method to avoid shame. Addiction is the number one way for the mind to escape shame.

You can be addicted to food and put on too much weight than what is balanced for your body or be addicted to dieting/working out and have just as much shame being a size four. Eating disorders are rampant in our culture as a result. Truth is, every body has a natural size and shape it wants to be from teeny to huge. We don’t need to glorify thin and shame fat. We don’t need to heal by glorying fat and shaming thin. Healing is allowing the variety to return and self-sovereignty over one’s body to be restored.

I am not afraid to share my story anymore but I used to be. I have worked hard on myself to heal body shame and I have approached healing from two angles, internal and external. From the internal angle I have found self love for exactly how my body looks in the present, flaws, fat, sags, wrinkles, and all. I also have an autoimmune disease that presents in very ugly skin eruptions. I found much acceptance and love for the way this disease attacks my body.

From the external angle, I have healed shame by losing weight, getting in shape, and being committed to my yoga practice. I was carrying more weight than what was right for my body due to food addiction, which is why losing weight was healing for me though losing weight may not be needed for every body to heal. Getting in shape brings me a lot of joy which is healing. My yoga practice connects me to my body each day and this is the crux of body healing for me. I do think every body benefits from mind body connection as it is our birthright to be whole and connected creatures.

I have made friends with shame along the way. I am not free of it but shame is greatly reduced and when I do feel it, I bring love and radical acceptance to the shame knowing that if I do so it will leave my body. Shame is a passing chemical storm. It is not who you are. And you can feel just as much shame being the body society promotes all the way to being the body society rejects. Doesn’t matter. Shame is not logical and it is not rooted in reality.

Learning how to meet shame with love and release shame from the body is the key to health, balance, and self love. True beauty is making peace with all of who you are body, mind, heart, and soul. But it’s hard because we are hooked on comparing ourselves, feeling bad about our bodies, and trying to meet society’s beauty expectations again and again. What has been most conditioned is the hardest to change.

To overcome body shame and feel self love for the body requires a commitment. Kind of like a marriage commitment. The reason why I say this is because it’s too alluring to slip into body shame and believe it, again and again. It only takes a moment to slip and fall into a shame spiral that acts like quick sand once in. Healing from shame sometimes requires a fight but more than often requires skill and dedication.

One skill is to utilize love and not confuse love with like. I may not like the skin eruptions I can get with my autoimmune disease but I can love the eruptions. Using the marriage metaphor, you can learn to accept your partner’s traits that irritate you because you love them unconditionally even though you may not like certain things about them. Love your body the same way. Just like a relationship, every body has its pretty and ugly parts or parts you like and do not like. This is ok.

Love is not about liking all the time. Love often loves what is does not like. This is hard to understand or put into words because love is a felt experience and not a logical equation. Body love is felt and the feeling grows with skill and dedication. This love versus like skill applies to body size and shape too. You may not like your body size or shape but you can love your body size and shape.

Some people carry more weight than the beauty standard and enjoy how they look and some don’t. You can work on your size and shape if you want to change it but are you doing it from a place of love or as a way to avoid feeling shame? This difference is important because if changing your body is motivated by shame you will never love your body no matter what you look like.

Changing from a place of love is the healthy route. This goes for any aspect of the body’s appearance. Sometimes accepting what you don’t like about your body’s appearance, that you could change, is the healthiest and most loving route. But to even have the choice between changing and not changing your body requires self love. If you do not love your body you will feel like you do not have a choice. You will feel victim to shame or your mind will tell a story that you must lose weight (or whatever it is) to be healthy, pretty, good, or valued.

So it gets complicated…

Having an autoimmune disease has taught me a lot about accepting my body when I don’t like aspects of it. Nothing screams shame like horrifying and unsightly skin eruptions. In my most noble moments, I feel this condition is in service to my work as a therapist because I have been forced to learn how to love and release shame to the extreme.

If you live with acceptance and love for your body you will live in the present, stay connected to body, and you will be more inclined to move and feed your body in the way your specific body truly needs. You will be more likely to let an intimate partner into your life, you will be more motivated to dress in a way you enjoy, you will be less judgmental of others, and you will experience more peace.

I feel that it is the responsibility of every woman to try to love and accept her body more so that we can change the beauty expectations and society’s conditioning over time. It’s not just for yourself you are healing for, it is for every women and every child. It is to bring more equality to women in this world. It is to bring more equality to everyone in this world.

Women can look refined with wrinkles too. Our bellies can be cute. We can be large or thin, flat or big chested, have a butt or no butt, wear make up or not, on and on, and we can be valued by society as healthy and beautiful if we make it a responsibility to own our self worth and body love within, first.

One thing I have learned on my path of healing is that even though it’s not my fault for what happened to me or how I got conditioned, it is still up to me to heal. This is the harsh truth of life for us as humans. Even if you have been truly victimized by another, by society, or in the world, you are the only one who can heal yourself. When you heal yourself, you heal everyone.

I want to share what I did to release shame and love my body because maybe it will help you too.

  1. I made the commitment to myself. I did this by creating a ritual on the new moon, calling in the directions and to the transpersonal forces in my own way, I asked for help and said my vows out loud. This was my marriage ceremony to my body.
  2. I began doing yoga naked in front of a full length mirror. This was very hard! I had so much shame in the beginning but I kept doing it anyway and asking the transpersonal to help me see my shape and size with loving eyes. Wouldn’t you know it, it worked. I began to see myself with authentic loving eyes and to have acceptance around parts I did not like. I still do naked yoga because it has become very enjoyable connecting to my body this way. Our society tends to over-sexualize the naked body but let us break that mold. The naked body is our innocence and creature self in raw form. You can try a practice of looking into a full length mirror naked once a day for a few minutes. I recommend asking spirit to help you see with loving eyes. Stick with it. This took me a few months before my perception shifted and shame lifted.
  3. I began mindful eating no matter what that looks like, meaning I can mindfully eat quickly with robust vigor as much as I might eat mindfully slow and methodical but the point is to be aware I am eating and enjoy the food. Thank the food. Thank my robust appetite. Thank my belly for digesting my food which is really number four.
  4. Giving gratitude to the body for it’s functioning. Thank you body for digesting my food, for my walking legs, my eyes that see…you get the idea. Take some time to think about all your body is doing for you and give it thanks. Give thanks for your body allowing you to be here alive on this planet.
  5. Radical acceptance. This one simple skill is hard to achieve and all you need to meet shame with love. I learned how to move through the shame by giving it space to express itself without fear. Learn to not fear shame. When shame rises up know that it is nothing more than a chemical storm coursing through your body. It is not who you are. When it rises up, notice shame as a sensation in the body and radically accept its existence just like you might accept a storm passing through your town. Shame will pass. Shame will leave the body when it is given non-resistance.
  6. Find the movement you love. I found yoga. I love doing ashtanga yoga. When I do it, I feel like myself. I feel open, free, peaceful. It’s not fun per se, but it makes me feel whole and balanced. I also found fun body movement in walking and other random activities such as swimming and being on a boat feeling the water move my body ever so slightly. It’s not just movement, it’s how your body feels. I love the way my body feels when the sun shines on bare skin, when I step into a hot shower, when I slide into clean sheets. Find all the little body joys. Every day.
  7. Stop looking at triggers like fashion mags or anything that seduces you into the comparing mind. I refused to pic up fashion magazines in the beginning stages of my healing journey because they made me feel not good enough. Now I can flip through them without being triggered but it took time. Know your limits. Honor your limits. Reduce triggers as much as you can until love starts to take over and shame is released enough. You will get stronger, I promise. It isn’t weak to know and honor your limits. It is smart and healthy.
  8. Be consistent with your practices. This is the hardest lesson of all but absolutely necessary. I have this skill down with ease now but it took a few years of pushing myself to do what I don’t feel like doing over and over. You can not listen to your feelings and do the thing anyway. Get on the mat. Go for a walk. Say the gratitudes. Eat mindfully. Look into the mirror naked. Do the things.
  9. Always call the transpersonal for help. Every morning I say my invocation and ask for spirit to take my body shame and bring me body healing. The transpersonal is real. You can surrender to your higher power. This is not weakness. We are only human. We are not superheroes and this is ok. Our wills are stronger when they are knitted to the whole, to the transpersonal larger forces however you relate to them, religious, spiritual, or nature.
  10. Get into therapy! Of course I say this as therapist, I believe in it. If therapy isn’t your thing than have therapeutic dialogue through diary writing, talking with friends, seeing energy healers to get support, there are many ways. I keep a diary, talk to my spirit guides, and have my support system. Body shame is a big deal and usually very chronic and life long in women. Be patient with yourself. The healing takes time but results are real.

May you find your way to release shame and love your body. I share my experience because maybe I can be of help or inspiration. We are all in this together and the more each one of us heals the more society will reflect balance, love, and true sovereign individualized health. Beauty’s natural variety will return and we will all feel more free, more peaceful and more content.

 

 

5 Skills on the Path of Transformation KO

This blog is addressing five skills you can build when doing the hard work of creating new neural pathways in your brain on your path of transformation. These skills will make you more peaceful, less anxious, more graceful, less self-doubting, more fulfilled, less chasing the dangling carrot, more present, less stuck in the past or future, more equanimous, less victim to the natural dark and light waves that life presents.

These skills may or may not lessen the ebb and flow of intensity in your psyche because a lot of how we roll is our temperament. Some of us roll more passionate, expressive, up and down, reactive and sensitive. This it is not wrong or bad. We all have our natures. Do not waste your energy judging yourself. As a friend just reminded me during one of my own internal storms, it is important be on your own team and treat yourself kindly.  As a former teacher put it poetically, who you are is not a design flaw.

Happiness is a feeling always in flux depending on circumstances. Peace is more sustainable and brings a certain contentment through dark and light times. Grace is learning how to traverse life’s dark and light times with more fluidity and ease. Fulfillment is being aligned with your true self in all your choices. Equanimity is the ability to have distance from your thoughts and feelings and to not identify with them, creating inner balance. Becoming present happens when the inner witness is strong inside.

The following five skills will help you achieve more peace, equanimity, grace, presence, and fulfillment on your path of healing, in service to true self and self growth…

1) Resilience. The reality is that the feelings you try to avoid and run away from inside will never go away. You will either repress them or feel them. You may repress them by being really angry or hurt by another and blaming them so you can avoid taking responsibility for your emotional experience. You may repress them through the spectrum of addiction/enjoyment/distraction with food, shopping, working, looking good, getting attention, drinking, drugging, etc. But when you are on the path of transforming, you face your addictions/dependencies/distractions and feelings start to rise up.

When you stop projecting onto others you also face all the feelings in the shadow rising up to be felt. And not just feelings. Also, the dark personality that copes with the feelings. Such as your super sarcastic bitchy inner queen, or your lazy nihilistic asshole, we all have our shitty personality that helps us cope and repress the feelings in order to survive. These dark personalities may be in the shadow or not. Mine is not in the shadow but I only show her to my close friends. It’s different for everybody but your dark personality has a bunch of beliefs that are false, such as love is not real, life is meaningless, this type of thing…beliefs that help you cope with what hurts or what you do not have.

To build the skill of resilience is to radically accept the dark personality who has helped you cope with life and then to radically accept all the intense hurt and feelings that are hard and scary to feel that the dark personality protects you from feeling. Radical  acceptance of everything you experience will create resilience and resilience gives you the capability to handle life in the dark and light times and especially long periods of darkness such as the dark nights of the soul we all go through.

2) Non-identification: This skill is connected to the practice of mindfulness. The key is to witness the dark personality and all the hard feelings without thinking you are the dark personality or the hard feelings. You may feel like the queen of bitchy sarcastic rage, for instance, but in your mind say, “this is not me”. You may feel extreme anxiety but in your mind you say, “I am not this anxiety”. You need a practice to be able to say these things to yourself and believe it over time.

You can meditate a few different ways. You can sit and do it. You can do it with yoga by connecting breath with movement. You can chant. You can color, draw, or do something with your hands that is repetitive while you witness your thoughts. Or you can do walking meditation.

The key is to be able to witness your thoughts and feelings, not to make them vanish. This builds the witness muscle. Just like building any muscle you get stronger with consistent practice. As you build the witness you can get stronger and better at not identifying with the constant stream of thoughts and feelings coursing through you as well as the many parts of self. We have the dark personality that protects the vulnerable inner kid, we have all the archetypes connecting to self, we have the family system traits, so many parts inside!

To build the skill of non-identification you need to commit to a consistent meditative practice. It is that simple. When you build the witness inside you can stop thinking you are your thoughts and feelings. You begin to free yourself as you grow more resilient to the darkness as you stop identifying with thoughts and feelings.

3) Mind-Body connection. This skill is also rooted in a meditative practice as well but also you connect mind to body through what you consume. We are supposed to be mind-body connected but the split occurs due to the broken world we are born into and our bloodline’s wounds lighting up in the DNA mixed with how we are raised and what we endure. Long story short, we have to find our way back to the natural mind-body connection that is our birthright.

When mind-body are reconnected we feel our feelings in the body and release feelings as they rise up. This keeps us healthy just like pooping out the excess food we eat each day.

When we are mind-body connected we can’t over eat or drink without it hurting and therefor we can’t escape the moment through food, drink, and drugs…we can only use them moderately because body requires balance. When we are connected to body overdoing it feels like crap physically. When we are disconnected from body we can drink five beers or eat a whole bag of chips and not feel any physical discomfort and in fact we may feel great because we are satiating the void. Numbness, dissociation, and de-personalization are all real deals. Connecting mind to body brings the us back into feeling the body’s responses to what we consume and what we truly need in the physical.

It seems by default we all identify with self in the mind and the mind bullies the body.

To build the skill of mind-body connection you need to have the boring practice that you force yourself to do each day. Find your way to the practice right for you. Is it alone or with others? Is it with a video or an app or just creating some space alone?

The other vital way to connect is through food, drink, and everything you put in your body. How much do our minds bully the body? We say, “I love beer,” and identify with being a beer drinker. We say, “I am a chocolate lover” and identify with eating sweets on a regular basis. These are examples. The body may be saying, “ouch my liver,” or “my intestines are growing bacteria and throwing us into disease” and the mind never listens or cares because the self identifies with the things is it consuming while ignoring the body’s needs.

Every body has its own requirements for a diet right for that particular body. Same goes for movement and self-care. What happens if you challenge your mind to listen to body and use that as a practice? Can you notice the cravings instead of giving in to them? Can you tune into your body and take the long road of discovering its best diet and way to stay healthy? Can you release identifying the self with what you consume, radically accept the crappy feelings that rise up when you use restraint and bring the witness to your practice? This will reconnect your mind to your body.

4) Unconditional love. This skill is built through the transpersonal path of connecting self to the divine. The divine does not have to be God, Goddess, or any version of spiritual belief from religious to non-religious. Thoreau connected to nature as his transpersonal force. You can call the transpersonal and see the transpersonal however feels right to you. The understanding is that you are never a disconnected self living in a disconnected word. There is a larger force than you and this larger force can take your burden, your cravings, your confusion, your anger….this force can bring you peace and what you long for deeply, can provide miracle moments, can open doors, make connections, and open up your heart.

You can keep the force as a natural mystery in your mind or hold the force as a God in heaven or a pantheon, it does not matter…but when you cultivate this connection you can begin to access the feeling of unconditional love. This is a natural feeling every human is capable of experiencing. When you feel it you let go of the hurt connected to others and to the self. Letting go does not mean not feeling hurt anymore, it just means that you accept the hurt and you accept those that hurt you, including yourself.

Once you accept the hurt and those who hurt you unconditional love rises up naturally and helps to wash the past away enough to make peace with unfairness, loss and all the vicissitudes of life.  Feeling unconditional is a process. To build the skill of feeling unconditional love is to cultivate your transpersonal relationship just as you would cultivate any relationship in your life. The more intimate you become with the transpersonal the greater your capacity to feel unconditional love and release the suffering in the heart.

Mindfulness helps you distance yourself from suffering. Connecting to the transpersonal transmutes the suffering.

5) Courage. I know it sounds simple but it’s an invaluable skill that takes time to build unless you are one of those naturally courageous people. Most of us aren’t and judge ourselves for it. Instead, let’s radically accept the lack of courage and not identify with this lack.

With courage we can face what we tend to avoid. What we resist persists. If you don’t face your fear of being vulnerable you will continue to hurt others close to you and yourself with your avoidance. If you don’t face your fear of the broken messed up world you will continue to escape reality and grow stagnant and angry. If you don’t face your failing relationship you will continue to endure with a stiff upper lip and false hope while the sensitive one in the relationship or family system will unconsciously feel all of the anxiety you avoid and they will suffer and not understand they are feeling your feelings too. These are just a few examples.

Courage is key. We all avoid pain, doubt. and vulnerability because we are all scared. Courage gives us the quality to face what we fear. You don’t need to have confidence in yourself to have courage either. Courage is not high self esteem. Courage is simply a willingness. If you are willing you can walk through what you fear and show up aligned with your true self.

You can ask the transpersonal to give you courage and it will work. You can also take a pragmatic path to building courage by telling yourself you will do one small scary thing a day and build tolerance in increments. I know for myself, I have a lot of weakness in this area. On my own path to building the skill of courage, I find that asking spirit to give me courage while meeting spirit half way and doing small scary things is the best recipe.

Courage is incredibly transforming because when we face what we avoid we become who we truly are and this sense of fulfillment opens up many new doors within and in the world.

Resilience, Non-identification, Mind-body connection, Unconditional love, and Courage I capitalize in honor of these powerful skills on the path of transformation and healing. These are not easy skills to build nor are they the only skills that matter but they are five potent keys that will change your life and awaken your true self.

Mindfulness and Transpersonal Practice Reflection…

Mindfulness is being aware of your thoughts and knowing you are not your thoughts. You are your breath, you are this moment, you are a separate ego-identity connected to the collective energies that are connected to oneness…

Collective energies coalesce in many ways, becoming more individuated beings like like Russian dolls inside of Russian dolls…the largest doll is Oneness, Source, God, Goddess, call this Force what you will.

You can turn Oneness into a human like being to help you feel close with it, you can feel Oneness as nature if you tend toward atheism. You can see Oneness as many gods and goddesses if you are earth based in the way you feel connected. Doesn’t matter, so long as you feel the connection to Oneness.

The intellectual word for Oneness is the transpersonal. Beyond self. Bigger than self.

The next Russian doll inside of Oneness could be a group soul, a star system, a galactic system of some sort. Doesn’t matter. Just a big fat system we are all connected with all of the time.

Keep going….Russian doll inside Russian doll and eventually you reach the bloodline. The collective dragon that is your ancestry. There is also the collective being that is the human race. There is also the collective being that is Earth.

This is not science and I am not describing these Russian dolls as facts. I am using metaphor to open your imagination and help you feel your connection to the collective nature of life that constantly individuates into specific forms and returns to Oneness in a continual infinity symbol of movement…

We are not separate beings having to do all of the work, shoulder all of the weight, and figure it all out. We can surrender to the larger forces. We can ask our ancestors, spirit guides, Oneness, whatever words work- to take our burden, to control our addictions, to bring support, to offer truth, to bring clarity, etc.

We can ask. Ask and ye shall receive is an infamous line that speaks wisdom. But in our American society we have a belief system that says if you ask for help, if you surrender to the transpersonal, if you admit you are powerless, that means you are weak and being weak is bad. I call bullshit on this belief.

The human ego succumbs to the forces of nature. We are supposed to succumb just like any Earth creature.

You don’t scold a little doggie for not knowing when to stop eating. You don’t expect a lab rat (I know, sad) to not get addicted to the thing being tested on it that is addictive. You don’t expect an abused animal to be strong and accept love like a well taken care of animal. Humans are the same. We are Earth creatures that are constantly being overpowered by nature and nurture. Be it a storm, a chemical reaction, cravings, fear, sickness, hunger, longing, our upbringing, conditioning, and the family system….all of the reactivity and and all of life’s powerful forces are natural.

Mindfulness is watching the thought stories that develop in the mind that tell you that you (or they) are bad, not enough, wrong, need fixing, etc. These thought stories develop based upon what we have been taught and also based upon what karma we bring into this life from previous lives. None of these ideas, beliefs, or feelings define you.

You are not your thoughts and feelings. You are this moment. You are breath. You are not the separate ego-identity that thinks you must shoulder everything, that avoids, distracts, tries to fix, solves, and figures it all out. You are larger than the ego-identity.

There is a line in the latest Star Wars sequel that I love. The Emperor says, “I am all of the Sith,” to Ray as he is trying to destroy her. Ray responds, “And I am all of the Jedi.” Both the force of pure evil and pure light know they are not separate ego identities. Ray and the Emperor know their ego-bodies are avatars of the present moment but that all of who they are is all of the Sith and all of the Jedi.

This reminds me of how I feel astrology to be true. I always say that human beings are the dreams of the stars and planets and astrology is how the stars and planets we are communicate with the dream ego pretending to be human.

Science is awesome for figuring out the world of the five senses that we experience. For prolonging health and life and understanding life. Science has its place in comprehending so many aspects about life. And it is important to remember that the five senses are human faculties. We see with human eyes. Hear with human ears. Feel with human hands. Taste with a human tongue. Know with human thoughts. Speak with a human mouth. Understand with a human brain.

The capacity to comprehend all of reality far exceeds our human faculties and science is limiting as a result just as spirituality is limiting. You would not want to perform surgery based upon spiritual knowledge!

The only way to know more about reality is to feel more. Experience more. Have a connection with more.

Some develop this connection with a spiritual belief that turns into a felt experience of faith. As Victor Hugo wrote, to love another person is to see the face of God. Some people feel the transpersonal connection through love and relationships. I feel my soul beyond this life. I feel my guides. I feel the other side. This does not make me crazy. This is not woo woo. This also does not give me super hero powers or make me better than you. We all have ways to connect with the transpersonal.

No need to glorify or make fun of anyone’s version of connecting with the transpersonal.

The thoughts go to extremes of glorifying or ridiculing because the feelings feel scared, threatened, hurt, betrayed, desiring, needy, on and on. The feelings when not accepted, turn into extreme black and white thoughts. All good. All bad. Religion bad or stupid. Metaphysics woo woo or crap. Atheism reality or cut-off. And this goes with everything.

Mindfulness is observing the feelings and then learning how to accept the thoughts that rise up without believing in them. Eventually you can accept the feelings too. Mindfulness is really about tolerance building. You build tolerance to accept heart break without believing a story that you or they aren’t good enough or that the world is doomed or that love is crap or whatever the story may be.

Tolerance building is for the ego. We have egos because we are creatures. Ego allows us to function as creatures in this world. Mindfulness is ego training. It trains the ego to continually turn toward presence and not the story. Presence is another name for Oneness too.

The whole shebang is constantly about connecting to the transpersonal so you don’t get stuck in finding who you are, who others are, and what life is, in the mind or in the thoughts or in the story. Same same.

Letting go is accepting and accepting is mindfulness. Letting go does not mean you no longer feel the hearth break, anger, sorrow, or whatever difficult feeling you wish to be free of. Letting go means you accept the feeling and build tolerance for it happening inside you without believing the thoughts you are telling yourself about the feeling.

This is why the practice is key. Be it meditation or yoga. Practice builds tolerance for the feeling of discomfort in the body while not giving in to the thoughts that want to stop the practice.

So much of healing is about consistency of the practice to build more tolerance and awareness so you can have the choice to not buy into what the thoughts are selling that stem from painful feelings you are attempting to avoid. Feelings come first and then the thoughts arise which exacerbates the feeling which then intensifies the story and ego’s sense of self lives in this vicious cycle when not mindful and connected to the transpersonal in some way.

Sometimes we have epiphanies in the practice. I had a mindfulness a-ha moment that changed my life forever…

I had only meditated a handful of times so I call it beginner’s luck really. I  began mediating the Vipissana way, focusing on my breath and watching my thoughts float by in sentences as clouds because I am very visual person. All of the sudden, I felt a strong feeling. The only way I can describe it is that it was a feeling of my me-ness. I felt this feeling of being me in my breath. At the same time, the thoughts rising up did not feel like me. In that moment, who I am reorganized itself within me. I knew I was my breath and not my thoughts because I experienced it.

After this meditation I no longer needed to meditate as much anymore because I no longer sunk into my thoughts to the point where I felt my self as my thoughts. Don’t get wrong, thoughts still have great power over my ego. I think all the time and I react to my thinking at every turn but at the same time I am witnessing myself doing this.

The witness watches the thinking mind.

This is why yoga is my practice. Because yoga builds my tolerance to have thoughts without reacting to them. My witness is strong since that a-ha moment but my tolerance for the thoughts that rise up needs building because I still desire avoidance and escape from discomfort.

We are all different. You may need to meditate every day for life to not sink who you are into your thoughts but you may have a natural ability to tolerate discomfort and face fear. Every ego struggles to find equanimity in different ways.

I can very easily watch my thoughts, knowing I am not my thoughts, while still reacting to the discomfort in many ways and losing equanimity. I accept this and this is why I practice every day or most days. This is why I also surrender every morning to the transpersonal.

Each morning, I open the directions, call in the names and all of my angels, ancestors, and allies and say a prayer/intention for myself, all of my family, all of my friends, and all of humanity. When I do this I find my anchor, my truth, my strength, and my love in the transpersonal. Ego on her own is way too fearful!

We all have different ego personalities. I like to compare them to litters of puppies because this metaphor helps to understand that our temperament is our temperament.

My ego is the scared runt in the litter. I know this about myself. I know I avoid fear to find comfort. I am the pup hiding behind the couch while some of my brothers and sisters are in the front lines barking and being tough. Other brother and sister pups are just following along, not leading or hiding. And so forth, you get the idea.

I know that yoga is what helps my ego learn to be more brave and equanimous in each moment of scary life. I know that surrendering to the transpersonal every morning gives my ego strength.

I rely on my connection to the transpersonal every day. Every single day. I stress this point because spiritual and mindfulness hygiene is as important on the daily as brushing the teeth. You go one day without brushing your teeth and they get gross. You go one day without connecting to the transpersonal and practicing mindfulness and the ego can fall into the rabbit hole of whatever is your personal hell hole. We all have our personal hell hole and it’s alright. No problem.

 

 

Stream of Consciousness Healing Blog

I write the following blog with the intention of my stream of conscious writing to be a catalyst of inspiration and healing, if you enjoy reading in this style.  It is meant to be one big long paragraph where I did not think before writing or craft the writing, I just typed and allowed the unconscious to do the expressing. Raw material direct from within. You may want to try it yourself. Don’t think, just write or type and let it all out…

My mom’s one-year death anniversary is Thursday. She feels so gone. Doesn’t show herself in signs or dreams. It’s so weird to feel how gone she is. It’s weird how natural it feels that she is gone. I suppose I expected to feel suffering, but I don’t. Grief is not suffering. Grief sometimes is worse than suffering but often grief is beautiful. There are many faces of grief and we all grieve differently. I speak of my experience. The dark abyss of endless longing for somebody you will never see again is a face of grief worse than suffering. It is the face of an endless heaving creature pain that pummels the nervous system. Nature never makes that last more than the body can survive it or more than the heart can survive it. But the mind can always glom on to the pain and create stories of life not worth living anymore. For elderly spouses this can be a common story. We are only human after all and this story is tender and deserves compassion. My story, per usual, is always one of healing. My mom’s death has catapulted me into healing the multigenerational wound in the female line. Body shame. Let’s face it, what woman do you know that does not feel some kind of shame about her body? Anyone? Our pain is not unique. It is collective because collective forces have enslaved our inner power. Feminine power in both men and women equally. Females are the avatars, but men are enslaved just as deeply. They have more power to run the world, but they run a messed-up world from an enslaved mind that does not comprehend how sick the world is. They are the avatars of power imbalance. Women have less power in the world, sometimes no power at all, but women talk about their feelings and bond emotionally with each other and therefor are much more empowered in the heart. Men are disconnected in the heart. These are sweeping generalizations made by the magical child’s commentary. It’s ok to let her voice out too. No fear. Then you have all those who don’t identify with these labels of gender and sex identity at all and may these types navigate their own course of identity, pioneering and catapulting evolution. Room for everyone in the variety, is my motto. I cannot write about it all though. I write specific. The beauty of grief I feel is how deeply I can love my mother now that she is free of the human suit. Nothing says love like I will never see you again. I hear her laugh in my head. She is light and happy as a spirit guide. She lets me know this all the time. I flipped the cushion of the chair I always sit in last night and said, “see mom, I did it, ” knowing she would be proud. Felt her in that tiny moment. It’s the little things even after death. Grief is beauty because she is inside of me. A piece of her soul landed inside those closest to her. I got some of her elegance, pragmatism and humor. Back to the healing aspect, I also got her unprocessed human pain and I am discovering how to let it go. How to heal that multigenerational wound that lived in her. How to process her anger and shame that mingles with my own. It’s through letting go. Always. I am beginning to understand on deeper layers how to let go. Not buying into the negative mental story. Not expecting life to provide fulfilment. Forgiveness that is felt and not just known as some ego-should to obtain. Radical acceptance which is the only act that leads to genuine forgiveness. Radical acceptance is not expecting life to be different than it is and allowing pain as much room as pleasure to exist as a fundamental aspect of human life. Accept what is. Every single aspect. The abuse of power, the positive force of the human spirit and everything in between. This pain is meant to be happening. The feelings say, “no it shouldn’t”. The creature hurts and doesn’t understand hurt. So soul needs to play mom and dad within to child ego, child creature, the very human part of us. Soul needs to play god and goddess within and guide creature. Soul needs to comfort and validate creature’s hurt, leading the way through the dark night. Soul has her dark night too though and needs to express lifetimes of karma, the deep well within of all she has endured. The she within every man and woman. We have all of these stories as movies, poems, novels, plays, songs, paintings, carvings, sculptures, meals, gardens, every creation that stems from pain. Beautiful expressions that release the pain through sharing it. We know we are not alone and we are meant to endure it. The paradox is hard to digest mentally. Sweet ego, always trying to make logical sense when only about one quarter of life can be reduced into the tiny cup of logic. Half of life needs the skills of mindfulness. unconditional love, a strong consistent practice. liberation of addiction, bringing order to chaos, rewriting the narrative of self, healing the multigenerational wound through letting go and making up a new myth of humanity. But you cannot exist fully in skills. We are not supposed to be healing robots. We are human beings and half of us is wild, the feminine spirit in every single body, the creative unknown, the pioneer, a body still quite unknown to science, so much still to know and explore and so much we will never know. We need creative expression, freedom, sex, sensuality, connection, newness, evolution, dreams. We need to remember the power within that is us but more than us. The transpersonal is the power within, call it what you will. We are connected always to the transpersonal force that courses through bringing us into life, love, intelligence, and awareness. We heal to touch upon this. We heal to remember this. We heal to grow. Healing is the structure that supports living, healing is not the point of living. Sometimes we get so bogged down though. We are weary from healing. We long for new stories to begin. Remember in your weariness that the act of enduring is meant to be too. Pain is a teacher. Grief is a teacher. Enduring is a teacher. Meaning and inspiration can rise from pain as much as from light and expansion if you touch the raw tender center with your mind. I know that sounds vague, but it will make sense over time. No need to avoid any aspect of life. Welcome dark to tea as much as light.

 

Reflection on Past Lives

It doesn’t matter if past lives literally happened or if they are mythological and archetypal stories informing us of the soul’s life. What is real versus what is not real, in terms of esoteric information, cannot be solved by the human mind and empirical means. Our ability to know what constitutes the whole of reality is limited and always will be.

Different pathways of knowing are designed for different knowings. Science, empiricism, logic and reason has its place. Intuition, feelings, imagination, and belief has its place. Both are needed and valid. Knowledge may be discovered in many different ways.

When it comes to spiritual knowledge, people tend to either go on blind faith or felt experience. I always recommend the latter as blind faith tends to create enslaved minds because it is often fear based and a way to give power up to a larger external institution. But felt faith is different. Felt faith is a lived experience of faith and full bodied, placing the power source within.

I believe in past lives because I have remembered many of my own. The memories feel like memories I remember in this life. Ever notice how memory has its own specific feeling?  My memories have come through past life journeys, dreams, and instantaneous sudden awareness. I have been shown signs. I have vomited and cried upon first meeting somebody in this life I have known from past lives. And all the lives I have recalled have all helped me heal.

I could deconstruct every past life I have recalled to sift out the major psychological themes happening in my present life. Meaning, I can turn any past life into a metaphor. Which one is true? Is the past life a metaphor or literal? It doesn’t matter to me. I hold both as true. I have a critical thinker and an esoteric priestess in me. The latter is more my true self and knows past lives are literal. The critical thinker in me is always humbling the priestess by saying, “this may be all in your mind.”

I like to be humbled by the critical mind. Nothing is more falsely seductive and bypassing as a spiritual guru type claiming to have all the answers in their new book, class, technique. The real gurus are the ones hardly saying a word and living off the grid without materialism at all in pure service to humanity. All the rest of us may be wise, psychic, and intuitive healers but we are very human with egos and desires that constantly want to feel needed, valued, and empowered.

Let go of trying to prove something right and as my friend said the other night, “bring it back from the dead with the power of belief.” Belief activates what is in the collective unconscious. Think of it like a vast place as big as space that we all psychically spring from. In this vast space everything exists in essence. The infinite void contains all, contains the multitudes. When you believe in something you resurrect it from dormancy by pulling it up from the collective unconscious infinite void into your waking self where life is lived out loud.

We are supposed to believe in myth. Stories inspire, guide, and heal. Our ancestors pass down their stories through the collective unconscious through patterns of behavior we exhibit, through feelings and desires bigger than our own, and through dreams. Each ancestral life lived a particular story with particular wounds and longings unmet that travel through the DNA hoping to be lived out by the next generation. This is a form of past life too. Our ancestors are our past lives.

The way I see it in my mind is in two axises. The vertical ancestry and the horizontal ancestry. The vertical is the soul’s journey from group soul to individual soul, from starseed to human, from lifetime to lifetime, and from dimension to dimension. The horizontal ancestry is who you are in your earth bloodline of ancestors. Where the two intersect is where the true self roots. We are a verb not a noun. True self is an expression of the vertical and horizontal ancestries living in the present moment.

We are never a separate being plucked from the collective. We are an expression of both ancestries at all times. You have your great great great great grandparents in you, your star home in you, your past lives in you, on and on. You are history living in the now. You are the future living in the now too but let’s not get too trippy in this blog. Who you are is a collective pretending to be an individual. This pretend game is very serious in that spirit aches to express, evolve, grow, and play all the time. Spirit is always alive in the present moment, always dancing. You are spirit dancing.

There are many ways to recover past lives. You can go see a past life regression therapist. I have guided many people into past lives. The guidance is very simple and the basic technique is relaxation of the body to go deep into the unconscious self to recover the life through imagination. The hard part is trusting the imagination. Many people think regressions are where you are not conscious while “going under” but you are conscious. You must trust what your imagination reveals to you because the imagination is the movie showing you the life.

Dreams can reveal a past life too. You may not be literally told in the dream that it is a past life but the scene, the people, and the scenarios may all feel very familiar, vivid, and important. Both journeying/regressing and dreams require trust in the self. This is where I see the most blocks in others. Self doubt. We are so conditioned to only put validity in science and empirical knowing that the intuition and imagination muscles may be weak.

The only way to increase psychic skills is through practice. Practice journeying, practice imagining, practice listening to your feelings and intuitions. Meditate a little bit every day. It takes work and effort like anything else. In our society, the gym and making money hold much more importance because we put more value in the body’s health and appearance and in the status and comfort level of the ego. There’s a grave imbalance. On the other end of the spectrum you have people going on blind faith and believing with no lived experience, no critical thinking, ignoring the body completely and living all for a future place in an after world.

I diatribe but just want to make the point that balance is key. What you focus on grows and what you ignore atrophies. Simple as that. If you want to remember your past lives you need to practice developing your journeying, intuitive, and imaginative skills. Although some people go deep right away when being guided by somebody or self guiding. You might already be gifted and just need to create the space and time to go within and take a journey to remember.

Past lives may be felt when reading or watching something on the screen too. You might be watching a period piece and find yourself crying for no reason. You may be obsessed with a period in history because it is a life you lived. You might detest a period in history. Clues surface all the time when coming into contact with history through entertainment, school, stories from elders, walking through a museum or a library. Trust the feelings. Listen to the feelings. Follow the feelings and allow your imagination to unfurl.

I have uncovered past lives with clients when pulling tarot cards. This happens when the client is already somewhat skilled in using intuition and imagination. Through talking, pulling cards and our mutual intuition, out pours the lifetime. Sometimes I see past lives in others suddenly. When I see the past life of a client I share what I see but I never want to hold more power than they have to know the self. I share with humbleness. Back to the top of this blog, what I see can be used as a healing metaphor only.

This is why I travel back and forth between literal and metaphor, spirit and psychology, the esoteric and critical thinking. Keeps it real. Keeps the ego from inflating and soul from deflating. Keeps the balance. Feel free to share what you see. We are not performing surgery when we share, it’s ok to be wrong or off and to stay playful about the vision. Sharing what you see may be a gift for the other person.

Getting out of the glamor of the esoteric is important because if you sink into the glamor you bypass the healing work. If you are all ablaze with importance because you remembered you were the king of a country, you will bypass the feeling of being insignificant that needs out of the shadow. You can as easily be ego inflamed from a horrifying and sad past life if the ego over-identifies with the wounds it carries, bypassing empowerment trapped in the shadow.

Just like somebody with a beautiful physique may live fully in the attention they receive for their outward appearance, ignoring their inner life, a psychic maven may ignore her lower chakra creature life and live in an inflated sense of importance with her intuitive gifts, the attention this gives her, and the power she feels from helping others. We all have gifts and we all have areas of weakness and the human ego loves to inflate the gift to repress the weakness in order to feel loved, needed, validated, and seen. Not one of us is above the craving for attention and the hunger to be loved and needed.

In astrology you can find your past lives in your south node and Chiron. Some schools find it in Pluto and Saturn too. In my own channels, I find Chiron to reveal the deepest wound carried from past lives, the south node to reveal the past life character wishing to be integrated but not identified with, Pluto to show where the soul feels the most loss from past lives and Saturn to show where the soul feels most limited and challenged due to past life influences.

There are a few lifetimes I have recovered that transformed me through remembering them. They involved meeting the souls I share this life with too. Soulmates are not just romantic. They are siblings, friends, parents, teachers, anyone. Romantic soulmates are very intense because lovers are intense and most closely mirror attachment with parents or caretakers.

The key to healing from past lives is to understand that all feelings that were not let go of and made peace with before death travel with the soul into the next life. This is karma. Guilt, for example, may be traveling with your soul through the vertical ancestry from life to life and be traveling down the horizontal ancestry through the bloodline from the first Grandmother who was oppressed by the patriarchal system. Until guilt is released it will travel with you.

If guilt is traveling with you, the unconscious will create relationships that will make the guilt rise up to the surface to be felt because feeling is healing. To let go we first must feel what needs to be released. If you feel the guilt and choose to accept it without judgement and let it go by not believing the story around it, you set guilt free from the soul. You no longer carry it. You release the karma. This is the key to karmic healing and the point of remembering past lives.

There are many paths to the same place. You can not believe in past lives and never talk about it once and still heal as deeply as somebody doing past life work. Through accessing your feelings in this life you can release all karma and understand yourself fully. It’s all a matter of choice, belief and individual expression.

 

 

 

The Journey of Grief

The inspiration for this blog comes from wanting my journey of grief to inspire and help you on your journey of grief. I want to pioneer more therapists sharing their own life stories and reflections because those of us who have been through it to be a guide for others have much to offer from our personal experience. We can speak in a universal way in order to connect with others on the healing path and to release muck from the collective unconscious.

On January 9th it will be one year since my mother passed away. The experience of her death is a treasure in my memory as my sisters and I sent my mother into death with our words and comforting presence. A rare opportunity. This was my first experience of sending a human into death. I did this with a doggie and the feeling was similar. Peaceful. My mother was not scared to die. She was ready and trusting. She felt spirit and soul to be real, not in a religious way, in a way she could feel on a personal level. Her felt experience gave her inner peace. She was only scared of the actual passing moment and she called her daughters to be witness and help her transition.

Although the few days she was in a coma prior to dying were two of the hardest days of my life, I am beyond grateful to have been a death guide for my mother. I asked her in the hospital, days before her death, how she wanted to die. She said with certainty, “at home, surrounded by my family.” I told her we would make that happen and the conviction in my body was so fixed nothing could stop me. I learned a lot about that feeling of fixed conviction. I learned that it is a transpersonal and archetypal force that rose into my ego to make my mother’s death be as she wanted. We have help from the transpersonal/archetypal realms whenever we need it.

Her year and half battle with cancer was brutal toward the last six months. I have thought a lot about it since her death. I have thought a lot about my behavior. I worked very hard to accept her battle and accept how she wanted to proceed through it. I remember distinctly learning the lesson of letting go of trying to control her in order to make myself feel better. The lesson of surrender is deep and life long. I did the best I could and I don’t harp on myself. I showed up with a lot of presence. I also recall all the times I was irritated with her, angry with her, wishing she made different choices and all the ways I reacted without presence and surrender. Part of grief for me has been going through each memory and forgiving myself for every time. It’s a process.

I also have needed to go through the awful memories of her vomiting and in pain with me as witness. I have felt so much pity and pain for her when these memories rise up. I then hear my mother in my head say, “I am free of that now, don’t dwell on the pain,” and I know she is right. This is a hard lesson for me because I feel so strongly how she did not deserve to go through all of the pain she went through. The anger for her having to endure cancer and the battle to kill it,  flares up strongly in my heart. I then tell myself all the crone wisdom: life is unfair for everybody, life is suffering, life is dark and light… and it helps. I make the intention to release the anger. Again, this a process and it just takes time.

What is important about grieving is that every step is treated as important. You cannot rush grief. Everybody grieves differently and for different amounts of time too. I cannot control my father’s grief and my sisters and I grieve each in our own way. Grief control us, we don’t control grief. You must let grief have its way with you and not judge others for how they grieve. Grief will teach you to endure loss, surrender and become much more aware of time and the shortness of life if you let it do its magic. If you resist grief you will become more addicted to the things you are addicted to: shopping, hustling, working, drinking, eating, controlling, whatever it is. People resist grief all the time and dive into doing all the things and escaping in all the various ways.

I have learned that grief comes in waves. I have cried the hardest for missing my mom about ten months after her death. In the beginning, the tears were more violent and deluging storms of shock. Once I accepted my mom’s death (stages of grief) about six-seven months later, the tears have become about missing her versus being shocked she is gone. I did not think about it until these new “missing her” tears…about how the longer the loved one is dead the more you miss them because the longer time passes without them. A very logical thought that I did not consider. Grief is not logical. I miss her presence so much.

I miss my mother’s voice, her scent, her sayings, her mannerisms. Grief has taught me that love for others is much more about their particular essence and much less about compatibility or beliefs. My mother and I were very opposite personalities but we found connection when shopping, watching television, having morning coffee, sharing our love of animals….but it’s not the connecting I miss about her. I miss her. Vivian. I miss her being in this world. The lesson this teaches me is so potent. I realize that love really is about love. It’s not about what I get or give. Sure, I miss how she nurtured us with her domestic ways and I miss giving her my love too but what I really miss is literally her presence as a living human being existing in this world.

I come from my share of abuse, dysfunction, and trauma like most of us do. Yet I am also very lucky that my family knows and gives unconditional love. I got very close to my mother over the last twenty years and we healed our stuff. I know me being a healer had much to do with it as I stubbornly pushed for healing in the early years. Yet also, my mother was open and healthy enough in her psyche to go through the healing journey. Many mothers do not have the capacity to heal or even relate. Many loved ones are so mentally ill that their children and siblings need continual distance and hard boundaries at all times. Grief may be very complex with the pain and mental illness involved in family systems. This still does not tell you how you will grieve though. Grief will surprise you.

Grief transforms you, a friend and fellow therapist told me. He has been through a lot of death. That sentence sticks with me. I have witnessed myself transform over this past year. Solitude is something I need much more of since my mother’s passing. It may not always be this way but for now, I don’t feel like being very social like I used to be. I have become a ghost friend. I know those who love me and are closest accept me for my ghost phase and those who cannot accept me, I let them go. I need a lot of space around me and a lot of time to go within. I don’t feel like doing much of the “fun” things either. I don’t want to go out much. I go to bed early. I am more serious, somber, and internal. I am sure this will balance out over time but for now, I need what I need.

One of the biggest transformations is that I no longer care what other people think of me, for the most part. I used to be much more concerned, as many of us are, about being liked and accepted by others. Now, I don’t care. I have an attitude that feels like, “if you don’t like me that’s fine, whatever.” All shame about being me has vanished. I feel a major increase of self love. I also feel more shit cutting, pragmatic, and honest with myself and everybody. I am not trying to people-please and any ideals carried over from my twenties have dissolved in the grief journey. I want to continue to dream, grow, and live with fulfillment but it comes from a much more grounded place inside now.

Again, my friends who are close honor this change in me. The people who count allow me to change as I give the same allowance to them. If we need to grow apart, that’s ok too. Those who needed me as I was before, I release. It feels really wonderful to be free of needing to be liked or to hold on to relationships that don’t serve me or them anymore. The self love increase is nourishing too. I am so much more gentle with myself. It feels as if my mother’s soul went into me and is helping me to become more gentle and balanced.

I feel that when the soul leaves the body, a piece of it enters those who were close. I feel the piece of my mom that went into me is her dignity, her shit cutting attitude, her grace, her pragmatism, and her love for fashion. Not all of these traits lived in the conscious world of my mother’s personality but all these traits lived in her being nevertheless. I feel these traits mix with my own and make me new. I have worn more make-up since her passing, feeling her love for make-up and being lady-like in that New York city way. I feel her quiet grace and earthy poise become a part of my former stormy celestial sparky self. I feel her shit cutting wisdom permeate my ethereal attitude. This makes me feel close to her too as I transform.

As we approach the year marker of her death, I feel a sense of joy. I feel joy that she is free of her body and her life here. I have connected with her on the other side. She is actively becoming a spirit guide and very happy with her life choosing to not reincarnate but to be a soul guide for the incarnated. Not every soul gets this choice. You have to die with enough peace in your heart to see the choice in the first place. How we live in this body continues after we leave it, with the same continuity of emerging into unknown possibilities and choices whether we are human, in another kind of body, or not in a body. But I will save the esoteric for another blog. I feel joyful for my mother’s happiness.

At the same time, I feel sorrow for my father being left without her. This is the dark side of love. Somebody will grieve the other when you get into these long partnerships. The lesson returns of not controlling. I cannot control his grief. I cannot control his life. I have learned so much about how we want control others when they are hurting because it hurts so much to feel their pain. Through my mom’s cancer battle, her death, and my father’s journey now, I see how much I want to take away the pain of those I love with my solutions, my way of seeing things, my way of healing. The lesson is to let it go. Allow others to experience life as they need to and only show up to help as asked. Pain is not bad and pain should not be avoided. Surrender.

Surrender means making peace with what is. Making peace with what is means making space for what is. Making space for what is means not saying or believing things like, “this should not have happened” or “this is wrong and unfair.” To make space means to allow all of it. ALL. I have discovered how to allow life to be grief, pain, hurt, and loss just as much as growth, pleasure, gain, and expansion. It means letting all of life express itself, the good, the bad, the ugly as they say. It means letting go of controlling the cycles. Paradoxically, you must put effort forth to self-care, heal and grow to allow yourself to let go of controlling the natural vicissitudes of life.

I always recommend the book, “Dark Nights of the Soul,” by Thomas Moore. He inspires me to find the richness in the dark night, whatever it may be. What bothers me is the collective ignorance of “turning the frown upside down” or bypassing the stages of grief (denial, bartering, anger, depression, acceptance) with sayings such as, ” don’t be sad, she’s with you in spirit.” These sayings are so the sayer can control your pain so they don’t feel afraid of it. It is vital to go through the grief journey with all the frowns, tears, stages, and for as long as you need. The difference between getting stuck and moving through the stages is that the former comes from resisting the stages of grief and the latter happens when you surrender to the stages and allow them to pass through you.