Reflections on the Importance of Core Values

This blog is about core values. Are you aware of your core values? Have you defined them in your mind, do you feel them in your heart? Or are you unaware of what you value authentically as true self?

Differentiating self from others is important business. How often we doubt ourselves when a core value clashes with a core value of a loved one….how often we sacrifice a core value for a loved one…..how often we do not develop firm and loving boundaries that allow us to say yes or no to others in order to protect true self….

Our core values make up an inner map that guides us into living a life that reflects our authentic self.

This map guides us to forming and sustaining the right romantic, friendship, business, and all forms of relationships.  (The West, heart) Without the map you could partner with a person where you have to compromise too much or completely sacrifice what you value. You may also find that over time you realize a core value is not being met and enter the healing process to see if a compromise and balance may be discovered. The matter may be complicated and take time.

This map guides guides us into choosing (if we have the privilege to choose and many do not) the right livelihood that gives us what we need and provides a sense of fulfillment. (The North, body) Without the map you may stay in a job that drains you or that you hate. Becoming aware of your values may also help you see that the job you have hated is actually providing you with core value nourishment in that it may pay well or is stable even if you don’t love what you are doing. The matter may be complex.

Our core values may not give us happiness all the time but they keep us balanced and allow for true self to have wiggle room to grow and express.

The map of core values guides us into understanding when we are in or out of integrity. (The East, mind) When you feel bad about yourself you might be judging yourself harshly based upon a habit of identifying with being bad due to attachment wounds or trauma from the past. Or you might feel bad about yourself because you are not living in your authentic sense of integrity, which is different for each person. When this is the case you need to course correct and return to your integrity to actually feel good about yourself again. Core values are an inner compass.

This inner compass builds a strong foundation in the psyche that helps us act from a sense of inner truth. (The South, will) When you continually act from whatever the impulse or reactivity of the moment is, you do not have your map in hand. You live at the whim of fate and the forces of nature. Learning how to say yes and no to the constant impulses of the body and unconscious mind begins with having your core values fleshed out and firmly in place. A clear and concise map.

Questioning your core values is a developmental exercise that is vital because as we grow our values may shift and change. In your twenties you may value partying or hanging out or dreaming huge dreams in the realm of endless possibility or living in a more idealistic state, etc. When you hit your forties you may have fully lived out (successfully or unsuccessfully) the core values of youth. This is what is called “the mid-life crisis” (the next developmental transit would be around age sixty nine at the second Saturn return, the markers happen all throughout a life span).

As one friend stated in speaking of the Uranus opposition in the natal chart that occurs around age 42 (this mid-life crisis transit), it is time to metaphorically build a new house. The house is our core value map. What do you value now?

I can say from personal experience that I am more of an introverted hermit now (in my forties). I value solitude. I also value discipline, consistency, being structured, grounded and balanced through taking care of my body. The values of my youth were all about flowing, indulging, and being in the heart all the time which allowed me to heal, grow and be my true self back then. If I did that now I would crumble. Now it is solitude, disciplined practice, and my health regime that catalyzes healing, growth and true self expression. I still enjoy socializing and flowing but it is not my main focus.

We may hold onto values from the past with less weight as new values take up more space.

Developmental changes may feel like crisis because change is hard for humans. Across the board. To suddenly experience being drained by what once energized, or to experience your health decline by what once invigorated, or to experience a certain quality of relationship (or the relationship itself) go from feeling right to feeling off and wrong, or to suddenly wake up in your job or lifestyle and it no longer feels satisfying…..

Are all clues that it is time to rewrite the map because your core values are changing. To avoid crisis you would just switch to the new way of being but that’s not how we are as humans. All of us get attached to people, jobs, lifestyle habits, mental patterns, and most importantly we attach to how our values turn into a self identity.

I used to have the identity of a bohemian gypsy priestess rolling through life a leaf in the wind barely touching ground and indulging my senses as I pleased. This identity and lifestyle was partially a privilege and a way of being that allowed me to deeply heal for a period of time.

Now my identity is a grounded, stable, disciplined therapist and teacher planting roots and living like an urban Buddhist monk with how I eat and practice yoga/meditation. I went through a very difficult transition because I was very attached to my old self identity. I resisted the identity I wear now, profusely (a life-long trend for me to have aversion for what I am about to embrace). Now I am content with the new identity.

Growth is always painful and death always brings rebirth.

The artist identity has also changed value. I used to want make it in the world as an artist. Now, I could care less about getting worldly recognition. Sometimes only part of an identity shifts. The artist remains but she values making art for the sake of making art and not for achieving fame or success in the eyes of others.

Do you have a life long identity that also needs a shift within it?

Romantic relationships are a big one when it comes to core values. The kind of relationship you value now may be very different than what it was five, ten or twenty years ago. Your values here may shift in terms of the structure of relationship and in the type of person most compatible with who you are.

Discerning core values from more shallow expectations is vital. You don’t want to miss out on a great core value match because they don’t meet your shallow expectations.

Compromise plays a big role here too. If an introvert is with an extrovert, for instance, your values will clash but can you find a happy medium where you allow your partner to go out more while you stay home and sometimes they stay home with you and sometimes you go out and socialize with them?

Sometimes opposite core values find their balance when other core values match up well between two people.

It is also important to discern the difference between a core value and an unconscious wound or fear. For instance, you may value a close long term relationship but fear being in one due to hurt from the past or not feeling good enough to have what you want. If you don’t know the difference between hurt and value, you may cling to an idea that you prefer being single and free when this is not a core value but rather a defense to protect yourself from being hurt again.

You may need to discover, rediscover or hone into your core value map. There are many ways to feel what matters most to you if your mind is not producing the words.

Look to what makes you cry with tears of beauty. Look to what causes you to feel anger in defense of the sacred. Look to what makes you smile big. Look to what invigorates you and makes you feel more expanded, open, and buoyant. Look to where you find it easy to focus and lose all track of time. Look to which people make you feel like coming home or make you want to be a better person or who make you light up. Look to love.

There may be blocks in the way when wounds, fears, and hurt spiderweb through the psyche. Sometimes finding the map requires an investigation of your shadow land. Patience may be required to navigate through confusing feelings, opposing thoughts, or being disconnected from your true self and over-bonded to the values of others.

Fear of being yourself may present as a projection onto someone or a real situation when a loved one’s expectations, criticisms, and dominating personality takes up too much space on a regular basis (due to their own wounds). This may have been in your upbringing or in a present relationship. Or you are projecting this onto a current person who is not dominating and critical but simply expressing their needs or feeling triggered into their own past stuff.

The path of differentiating true self from toxic patterns in loved ones is a path that requires courage. Discerning projection from reality is a skill that takes time to develop. We all project because it’s natural and just a part of what we do.

Lastly, I want to mention that we are not our core values and we are not our identity. Our values protect true self. To change up the metaphor, identity is the costume sewn by the core values to understand and express true self.

True self is deeper than the sewer and the costume. True self is a felt experience and a verb ever-changing just like nature and life itself.

 

 

 

 

A Letter from the Heart

Dear Patriarchy,

You are an institutional model that although was created by men, harms men as much as it harms women. True, men have more power in every worldly way possible. True, women are still treated as things to serve a purpose for men and our power is revoked time and time again. And…to see how men are disempowered inside your structure we need to zoom out and see your master plan…we need to see how you value logic, reason, conformity, blind faith, pulling yourself up by the bootstraps, having power, and continually pleasuring and beefing up the self at whatever expense, always walking on the heads of others.

You as a backbone of innocent religion demand blind faith, mental conformity that drains the will and oppresses all women and the queer community. You as a backbone of innocent atheism demand that all knowledge not deriving from the five senses of the human being is to be dismissed as irrelevant. You as the backbone of innocent politics turns loving intelligent leadership into a self-centered quest for power and control over others. You as the backbone of innocent education turns children into conformists who do not question what they are told and serves the few at the top. You as the backbone of innocent family puts men in roles of the strong logical leaders and women as subordinate creatures needing to be owned and tamed. You as the backbone of any family or relationship not straight or cis turn queer people into sinners and shame them into submission. You as the backbone of the innocent self install shame into every heart of every human if they dare stray from the set of the meaningless rules, values, truths, and expectations you propagate through our institutions of family, religion, education, and politics.

Your structure is set up to divide people and pit them at war with one another and be at war within the self. Men are raped of emotional connection and their internal self is manipulated, therefor they tend to be sick in the head. Women are raped physically and kept subordinate in the world. We are less sick in the head because we are emotional connected, aware, and we process our feelings with each other. Men are more sick in the head and women are more disempowered by your imbalanced power hungry structure, patriarchy.

And yet, I do not blame you. In fact, I do not blame at all. I see that you, patriarchy, are the reflection of us humans and what we refuse to see and heal in our own shadow territory. Deep down, we fear one another and fear our own power. It’s a big ancient and complicated story….the vicious cycle between you and us, patriarchy. Multigenerational trauma and cultural conditioning set up every infant to be already marginalized, disempowered, and fragmented….even the most privileged. It’s a spectrum of “haves” and “have-nots” experiencing less and more intense degrees of pain and injustice.

The only people who are fully liberated inside have healed themselves enough to discover their true power within and no longer seek it as much in others or in this broken human world in need of repair. For our true internal power source cannot be taken away by another. As long as we continue to overly externalize the power source as another person, an almighty god, a country, a leader, or whatever, we are not healing, we are getting it wrong and perpetuating the vicious cycle.

This is why I also thank you, patriarchy, even in the pain. Because you are showing me what I need to see and heal inside of me. You make it obvious that I crave empowerment and self worth that I must find within myself. I know it’s a process and path, this healing thing. I have to go through the stages. I need to go through the stage of blaming you and hating you, to get my anger and sorrow out for all the pain and injustice. I did that for a bit and then I moved to the next stage of accepting the reality of you, patriarchy, and also accepting the reality of my past trauma and multigenerational wounds.

I found acceptance of what is and began to focus on my healing process. I started feeling my own inner source of power and this is the big healing for me as a targeted women…coming into my own empowerment…so that I can then move beyond empowerment and into the next stages of strategy and re-centering. In my privilege, I move beyond inclusion into awareness and then allyship (thank you Letitia Nieto and your book “Beyond Inclusion, Beyond Empowerment, for showing me the way). I am a work in progress for my own healing and the healing of this world.

I don’t know how it all works but I do know that each individual that shows up with loving, kind, tolerant, firm, dedicated, intelligent presence that is balanced and honors both feeling and logic, faith and reason, dark and light, life and death (etc) brings healing to the world. To heal the world is to come together as one human race (with distinctions and differences in race, gender, age, health, sexual preference, and culture that are treated with equality). We must come together in numbers and say no to you, patriarchy.

Do you notice how I have lowered the case of your p? I am taking you off your throne inside of me in threat and power. I know I battle my own complicity too. Where I indulge your structure due to my privilege and also my wanting of convenience. I am on no mountain top. I admit and own my shadow aspects of self and do not judge myself for we all are made up of light and dark aspects. I do my best in each moment. I try because I know that the one and only solution is for the human race to come together and say no to you. If you are not needed, patriarchy, you will naturally decay and die as all structures eventually do.

May we all be on this path of helping you decay and die because although I accept the dark and light cycles of nature, I am in it to win. I am a lover who intends to see every human free and every infant born into true-self prosperity.

I send this letter to you without editing my thoughts because I want to express myself from the heart and off the cuff.

One day you will be gone forever, patriarchy, I just know it.

Love,

Michelle

Unconditional Self Worth

Self worth should be an unwavering feeling of unconditional love and high-value for yourself, no matter what. Tall order but very possible to step into and make real.

What you don’t want is to have self worth only when you are “doing good” and lose your self-worth when you are “doing bad”. This polarized story of self that is rooted in being good or being bad is ego’s natural way of operating. Ego strives to be liked, valued, appreciated, and seen by family, community, co-workers, a partner, friends, and any group we belong to and find home in. Because of this, effort is required to break the mold and learn to experience self-worth unconditionally.

The work involves analyzing your family system, culture and upbringing…sifting through every value you hold to see if it is a value dear to you or the value of somebody else. Same goes with your feelings about yourself. Are they your feelings or are they the feelings of your mother, father, sibling, or another loved one? This process of differentiating self from others lays the foundation for unconditional self worth.

Once you understand and know the difference between yourself and others you can take a look at your personal values and see what is out of alignment. An example of misalignment would be if you value being balanced and your behavior continually throws you off balance. Analyzing each value and the behavior around the value will illuminate where gaps exist in your integrity. These gaps will make you feel shame. The key here is to allow the shame to be felt, expressed, and released without creating a story around the shame that you are bad, wrong, or unworthy.

You do not need to lose your self worth if you are not aligned with your personal values. Instead, you can work to get into alignment and move through the shame as it presents. Sounds so simple but the reason why it’s so hard is because when you tell yourself you are bad or wrong or an asshole or a loser (there are many ways to say it) over and over again, you drain your will of its natural motivation and impetus. Nobody grows or changes when they feel like shit about themselves. You feel like shit about yourself when you tell yourself you are bad, wrong, unworthy. It’s a viscous cycle.

The key is to intercept this story that you are bad. You have built up this story either because those around you are not giving you attention, validation or love….or because you are not in integrity with your own values. It might be both! The story of being bad said over and over creates a well-worn path in the brain. This neural pathway begins to operate on auto-pilot until you don’t even notice that you have a choice about how you perceive yourself. Once you have clarity and self-awareness, you can create a new neural pathway in the brain.

The new neural pathway: I am worthy no matter if I am failing or succeeding, making a mistake or making a contribution, aligned or misaligned, fat or thin, rich or poor, single or partnered, etc.

The new neural pathway: I am worthy simply because I am me. I am worthy no matter what.

The new neural pathway does not link self-worth with behavior, attention, validation, reward, or results. This goes against everything society teaches us. We must be like the salmon and swim upstream to rise out of our inner turmoil that is the story of being bad, wrong, not good enough, flawed, and unworthy.

The new neural pathway validates the self as an unquestioned fundamental fact and truth.

The new neural pathway of unconditional self worth is our true sense of security and the foundation of well-being.

To create this new neural pathway takes practice, awareness, repetition, time, and dedication. I wish it didn’t. I wish we could just cast a spell, receive a miracle, shift with awareness alone….but there is something about the effort, time, dedication, and awareness that is as important and vital as the result.

The practice I use is four-fold and aligns with the sacred four directions.

North: this is the actual practice. You need a practice to train yourself to be new. All animals need to be trained in order to change, human or otherwise. It’s the way of all earthly creatures. Be it a meditation practice, yoga practice, or any practice where you connect mind to body. Yoga of all forms, chanting, sitting meditation, walking meditation…pick one and do it for five minutes a day to start. Work up to your time level.

Just like building biceps or anything, practicing meditation or yoga in any form builds the ability to differentiate self from the thoughts and feelings you experience..and from the thoughts and feelings of others. The practice will also build awareness as you become the witness of your emotional reactions, thoughts, and responses. Building your inner witness will give you the space to choose an unconditional self worth story at any given time.

East: this is the mental work of analyzing your values and sense of self and differentiating from your family/culture/loved one’s values and sense of who you are. Therapy is a great way to engage in this work. You can do it alone with books, friends, podcasts, and videos as your allies on the path. The work of differentiation takes time as we can only see what we are ready to see. To stand firm in our own foundation of self requires a readiness and courage as well.

South: this is the burning up of the old pathway of conditional self worth. I know it may sound overly simple but laughing and sweating each day burns up the old neural pathway. Getting the will out of the familiar routine is helpful, be it trying new things or thinking new thoughts. Each day sweat, laugh, think a new thought, and do one thing differently,

The biggest task of the south is creative expression. When we create we burn up all that was and is and we make room for the new. You don’t need to be an artist to create. Make a painting, sing songs, make music, garden, cook, redecorate, craft something, make a collage, play with crayons, dance, make a video…it does not need to be sell and it does not have to be good. Create from a playful place like a child. Create for the joy of creating. You don’t need to be thinking about self worth or be therapeutic about it. Creating is therapeutic naturally!

West: this work is about feeling your feelings without the story and of healing the attachment wounds from the past showing up in present relationships. The west is complicated. Learning to feel your feelings without trying to fix or solve them and without putting a story around the feeling, is very hard. Not only hard but also tricky because you often are unaware you are making a story up when you have a strong feeling. You may feel extremely hurt by another and create a story of betrayal that is wrapping around the hurtful feeling, without even knowing you are the creator of the story. This work takes time to understand and practice.

Healing attachment wounds requires analyzing self to know what the wound is and forming secure healthy connections with others (therapist, healer, lover, friend, family member, a pet). If you are totally alone you can form a secure attachment with self and this should be done no matter what. You can form a secure attachment with spirit, with nature, and with life itself. This topic is too large to write about here but as many have said, “what gets broken in relationship must get healed in relationship”. Love is always the root of all healing.

In a nutshell, this four-fold practice of healing will bring unconditional self-worth into being and liberate you from much suffering. When you have unconditional self worth you no longer put this task on others and you no longer slip into the shame spiral of despair when you are just being human (making mistakes, wrong choices, having a set-back, hurting another, struggling with mental illness, losing a job, etc etc the list goes on).

Most importantly, having unconditional self worth provides a feeling of security, fulfillment, and inner peace that is independent from relationships and impervious to anything happening in your life.

The South, Will, Center, Sacred Fire

In this blog I will delve into the south direction for healing, as an extension of the blog “The Defeat Story and the Transcending True Self.” That and the north and east direction blogs are written right before this one. I am using the power of the south to blog this morning as I don’t want to lose momentum and motivation to write a blog for each direction. My conviction leads me here.

The south is the will. Here we can heal through intention, conviction, and courage. Most of our wills are reactive to what others think of us and how the world treats us. The will is what motivates us. When we are groomed to be reactive to the outside world as the thermometer of how valuable and good we are, the will acts like a ping pong ball always bouncing around based upon circumstance and other’s opinions of self. In the south we learn how to make the will our center. Our true worth stems from the will which is a sturdy yet supple knowing within self and not a temporary emotional reaction. Learning how to live intentionally with every aspect of life builds the will. Making ritual a daily hygiene practice strengthens the will. Healing the will through releasing guilt, shame and other toxic stories connects to the work of the other directions. In the south the healing is one of purification through fire which is using courage, conviction and physical expression to burn away the old.

The will is mysterious. Like the heart of the west the will is also a felt experience. But where the heart’s feelings are the response to relationships (with self as well as external relationships), the will’s felt experience is generated by spirit. If you are not spiritually inclined you can say by  generated by nature or instinct. There is no difference between spirit and nature other than the mental concept relating to it. Remove the mental concept and it still exists as the felt experience that motivates us to act. The will is not the action itself. North is action. The south is where the impetus to act exists.

The will is like an instrument. If you don’t tune it and play it with intention, it will get out of tune and it will be played by the past and by the world of relationships within and without. The will and heart are like the instrument and the melody. The instrument is the impetus and the melody is the response. They are constantly in relationship with each other, just as with body and mind. All the directions always interplay. I am only wanting to differentiate the subtle difference between heart and will. Your heart may long for a romantic relationship while the will rejects intimacy because it’s filled with shame from the past, your past and maybe the ancestral past too.

The will, if not tuned and directed, will be motivated by the past and by getting validation from others that it is worthy as the will collects guilt, shame, and other toxic stories from the mind, ancestral wounds, social and family conditioning, and past lives. The will needs clearing constantly.

We tend to think of the heart as the area that needs healing and purification but it’s the will that needs it. The heart is like weather, always changing, always coming and going just like the thoughts in the east. The east and west, mind and heart, are alway in flux. The south and north, will and body, are meant to stabilize and move in a linear progression that creates a cohesive reality over time. The will is a still center that pulses and these pulses are what motivates.

To purify, heal, and stabilize the will we need to have courage because it’s friggen scary to face shame, guilt, and insecurities weighing the will down and making it act in ways not in integrity with true self.

To release shame, guilt and other toxic mega-stories that live like a perpetually out of tune string on the instrument, we must face and feel these feelings in the west and let go of identifying with the stories in the east. I like to think of the mega-stories the will holds as having different narrative tones, like the tones of movies. For myself, when my will is holding the mega-story of shame I feel like I am living in the tone of the movie “Donnie Darko” and when my will is clear and centered I am living in the tone of the movie, “Amelie”.

We must have the courage to look shame in the eye and give it love. If you let shame express and give shame love, it leaves the will and the body, making it much easier to let go of the mental story. So simple and so hard! You may need to do this a million times. Healing occurs in layers because of the north. We are process oriented creatures that require baby steps (with the occasional miracle) or we explode from too much light at once. Keeping the body relaxed in the north is vital as shame rises up. If you learn how to do this, shame will exit.

Another important healing for the will is to set daily intentions with daily ritual. This is different than the meditation practice of the east. In the south we want to use thoughts like a magic wand. Intentions set in the south are like flags we stick in the soil of the soul’s integrity.

If each morning you have a ritual of intention setting, saying for example, “spirit fill me with unconditional love, acceptance, forgiveness, a sense of humor, and grace,” you will tune your will to these words, spirit or nature will rush in to help, your heart will play the melody of your intention, your mind will write the intentional story, and your body will perform the intention on some stage in your life.

Motivation comes from the will. Intention increases motivation, ignites it. Light a candle and some incense, hold a crystal, stand by your alter, smudge, bless water you drink, water a plant, use sacred tools or ordinary tasks in a sacred way to connect your intention to the physical elements. This brings your will into the present moment by connecting will with the embodied north.

Each morning, I light incense and hold a specific crystal and call in the four directions, my angels, ancestors, and allies and I make an intention for my family and myself in each of the directions. After my intention setting, I pull tarot in a four directional spread with the fifth card revealing the daily theme. I tune my will to the archetypes, get on board with the story, and surrender my heart to the energy of the day. Until I do ritual, my will feels all over the place, reactive to the mood I wake up in, reactive to the dreams I had during sleep, reactive to the emails I read before I do ritual…but I wait until after coffee and emails because I like a soft wake up time. Once I do my ritual, my will tunes up and aligns to true self and spirit. Immediately, I feel more centered, supported, courageous, and self-generating.

Doing a daily ritual practice for the will builds its strength and integrity so that you don’t rely on the validation of others and the temporal outside world to keep you motivated. The will becomes the steady center and sacred fire in the belly that drives, motivates, encourages, validates, and protects the true self with conviction and integrity.

Physical expression plays a key role in the south. The north is where the creation is given; the art itself, the meal itself, the garden, the massage, the clean house, the song, the dance, etc. The south is the impetus to physically express. When my will is tuned up as my sacred center, I will paint and write often in my free time. When my will is flailing about from reacting with shame to others or to circumstance, I will feel creatively blah and instead compulsively eat and zone out to too much Netflix.

The root of addiction is in a will filled with toxic stories. The toxic stories are so unbearable to hold that the will loses center and reaches for an external dopamine hit to substitute for the missing sacred fire of spirit. This external dopamine hit is the drink, food, spending, orgasm, instagram like, accolade, weight loss, whatever the addictive behavior may show up as in your personal story.

Over the years I have strengthened and healed my will through releasing shame and doing daily ritual so that now, many years later, I am beginning to catch myself when the will is reaching for the sugar or carb to avoid the shame it’s holding. When this happens it’s not clear. I don’t know my will is filled with shame in the moment because it’s always rationalized with some mental thought that makes the behavior seem innocent and not connected to feeling pain. When I catch the compulsion masked as a rationalization, I know it’s the hurting will needing to release shame. I call for spiritual help first and then I reach for the paint brush. This actually releases the hurt, tunes and heals the will in the living moment.

Courage is needed to not fall into comfort zones of compulsive behavior or avoidance that masks shame and pain…and to face the shame and pain, releasing it with love and expression. Conviction is built with daily intention setting ritual, using thoughts like a magic wand that roots your will in the soil of true self, spirit, nature, the present. The sacred fire.

 

 

 

Notes on the East, Mind, and the Story

This blog will go deeper into the east direction of healing as first written about in the blog entry, “The Defeat Story and the Transcending True Self.” Healing started in the north and you can read about that in the previous post.

East is the mind and here we can find the mindfulness practice that allows us to be witness to the story of defeat versus buying what it is selling. When we can watch the mental stories and the mind blah blah blahing while knowing true self is not the thoughts, we free ego from being enslaved to the story of defeat. This gives space for true self to rise up from the shadow and synthesize with the ego. No need to understand how this works. If you learn to watch your thoughts but not believe in them and if you learn how to be the witness to your mind but not identify with mind as self, the true self will rise, synthesize and become ego. The healing of the east is connected to the air, seeing the big picture like a wise eagle up in the sky.

I want to share my personal story of healing in the east. Back in 2010, when I was 38 years old, I had never meditated before minus a handful of times. I had done countless journeys inward in the form of creative visualizations and shamanic journeys. I had stared out the window and allowed my thoughts to reveal themselves in silence probably every day of my life. But I did not think I needed to meditate and I had no desire until my father suggested I try it when he noticed how much I was struggling with a certain issue in my life.

Smack dab in the middle of New York city, I closed my eyes and began the basic practice of watching my breath and noticing my thoughts pass like clouds through the sky of my mind. Beginners luck. Within just a few minutes a profound felt experience took me over. I could feel me being my breath and the thoughts not being me. Suddenly, I changed forever. I no longer believed my thoughts were true. I no longer felt my self to be what my thoughts were telling me I was through their stories and more deeply, I no longer felt thoughts themselves to be anything even close to who I was.

An emptiness seized me for weeks afterward as I would have thoughts about me or whatever topic rose up and every single thought seemed irrelevant. Not pointless or bad or wrong or any judgmental thing. Just a soft neutral irrelevance that left me feeling empty because I used to fully invest in my thoughts before that. I used to not have a sense of space between me and my thoughts. All of the sudden there was space and complete differentiation. Thoughts seemed nothing more than song on the radio.

I am very mental by temperament. I have seven air planets in my natal chart which represents mind. I am a huge meaning-maker. Eventually, I found my way back to the love and joy I experience for allowing my thoughts to have some weight. During that period in 2010, I would have said, “I have seven air planets in my chart, is just a thought. Astrology is just a thought. I am a meaning-maker is just a thought. None of it matters. I am, is just a thought.” and let it all go the moment those thoughts rose up in me. This is a path many take in life and it is beautiful and true in its own right. I swung back to the middle because my true self love for meaning-making led the way.

Every time I get too invested in thoughts I can return to that place and drop all identification with thinking and identities that thinking creates. To identify with your thoughts means to believe them as true and to believe what they tell you informs you about the nature of reality, self, or whatever you are thinking about. We use thoughts as a means to communicate and they have their purpose. Eventually I found the right balance for me in how much I invest in thoughts but I don’t identify with them at all anymore. I can blab on and on about my natal chart and how it makes sense of my internal experience and I also don’t identify with Astrology as a concept, at the same time. This is how it is with every mental understanding that I love and that gives me a strong felt sense. I love exploring the archetypes, they give me a strong self sense and I don’t identify with archetypes as concepts.

I identify with only a felt experience of being me. It’s wordless. It’s love if I have to give a word.

I share my story of east healing to show how quick it can happen to loosen the grip on the mind. When we over-identify with the stories our mind tells us, we suffer. Buddhism is rooted in the psychology of detaching identity from thought. We are not our thoughts. Even being a “me” is a thought and radical practice of this transcends sense of self past the individual level. We are not who we think we are.

Thoughts are not ours. We don’t make them up. Thoughts travel around and we catch them with our brains that are like nets catching butterflies. Or you can see the brain as a radio station and thoughts are the radio waves. Those of us who channel experience this consciously all the time. I turn my brain to a certain channel and channel a certain being.

The big idea (which is a thought too, so everything I explain in this blog is also moot) is that we are not the stories we tell ourselves and we don’t make up thoughts we think. Rather, the human being is a frequency channeling other frequencies in one big frequency being.

How is this healing?

Because, for example, when you let go of believing you are insecure and not good enough, space is created within. This space will naturally fill up with love. Love is the frequency of oneness that is the core power inside every single human being. Love is God. Love is Nature. Love is Universe. It’s the most natural thing in the world. Yet it is very easy to blotch out. If you spend all day trying to prove your worth in the eyes of others or chasing after projections of what you think will satisfy you or tell yourself you are a piece of poo or tell others they are a piece of poo or whatever story of pain and suffering you tell yourself, you blotch out the natural love that is the very core of existence.

I don’t use the word love like a hippie woo woo creature you can make fun of but you might make fun of me anyway. Let me remind you, love is strong. Love is childbirth, love is surviving abuse and war and starvation, love is saving a life, love is working through problem after problem, love is communicating truth, love is being honest, love is being open, love is being vulnerable, and love is being present. Love is hope. Love is the blood in the body and the gold of the soul. The west is where we feel this love. The east is where we clear space to feel this love.

I have not formally meditated in years. I do a vinyasa yoga practice that connects breath to movement and this keeps me centered so that I remain the witness of my thoughts. Four times a week. Chill. I have huge struggles in certain areas and I am not on any mountaintop when I share that being witness to my thoughts is something that comes easy to me. For you it may be harder and you may need to meditate daily to stay the witness. We all need a different kind of practice.

You can meditate by simply watching your breath and thoughts pass by while sitting in silence. You can watch your thoughts and breath while chanting, making something with our hands that does not require thought, or do some form of movement that allows you to watch thoughts and breath at the same time. You can meditate for five minutes a day or hours a day. Some ancient eastern practices make it complex and add all sorts of fancy breath work. There is a lot of variety to choose from and practices root back to the beginning.

True self rises from the west when we create space by not identifying with thoughts. This is my take on it, coming from a western point of view where I have consciously chosen to embrace the creative play of being an individual soul. I don’t believe in the individual soul as a static thing because as we lose the human suit we may become more collective and when I let go of all thought, I feel only oneness as the play of forces and form. I like to use all metaphysical concepts playfully, poetically and free to morph, as a result.

I feel the play of forces and form that is oneness choosing to put on the costume of the individual soul. Like the Russian doll image, I feel oneness as the core doll evolving through individuating itself into more and more specific life forms. I feel oneness evolve through creating stories of being different life forms. Just as humans stem from the single cell bacteria here on earth…I feel oneness as the spirit version of the single cell bacteria, continually evolving into more and more life forms. Metaphysical tangent.

True self is the authentic individual aching to emerge from the shadow of the ego where it waits for ego to make space for it to rise.

When space is created by not identifying with thoughts, true self can begin to rise and embody the conscious personality. True self is a felt experience and not a belief system. Why must I always express myself creatively? It’s my true self. Why am so sensitive and feel things with the volume way higher than most? It’s my true self. Why am I so spiritual? It’s my true self. It’s me beyond an idea of me. It’s living breathing me.

I was blessed to be raised by parents who did not tell me what to believe about who I am or life itself.  I was raised without religious or moral dogma. I was raised with a felt experience love, even through the dysfunction, abuse, and troubles youth delivered. This may have made it easier for me to know who I really am. I can only imagine the struggle for some who are raised with strong mental belief systems and dogma that forces them to repress their true nature at a young age to survive or be liked. I think about this especially for LGBTQIA kids and it breaks my heart that their true nature is made to be sinful and wrong by religion.

We all face the battle of true self versus conditioned self if we don’t align with our culture’s value system, on any level. Yet even if you are gender binary, christian, cis-male, straight, between the ages of 18 and 35, healthy, handsome, wealthy and educated with the cultural norm kissing your feet, you may equally battle discovering your true self because the world will mold your success so easily and distract you from looking within. However you are praised or marginalized by family and culture will inform how your true self is repressed or valued. Nature and nurture.

A certain true self temperament may not let any amount of cultural/family conditioning, abuse or trauma repress their true nature. Another temperament may crumble from the slightest thought of being humiliated. The reality of being oppressed, abused, or steered away through a strong value system put in place by family and tradition effects each individual in varying degrees. You can notice this in siblings who grow up in same household and culture but respond to external life in very distinct ways based upon their distinct internal experience. The distinct internal experience is the true self.

True self exists beneath and beyond thought but thought turns true self into a word and a concept. In the east, space is made between the felt experience and the thoughts that are always flooding in to costume the felt experience into a story. This story, when identified with, cements itself into the psyche and loops. This looping is called a neural pathway. The reason why we get stuck in habits of thinking and behavior roots itself in the way the neural pathway plays on repeat like forgetting to change the radio station and it always playing the same song, over and over. This is suffering.

 

 

The North, Body, Ancestors,Physical Expression

This blog will go deeper into the North of the four healing directions written about in my last blog, “The Defeat Story and the Transcending True Self. Please note, this is how I attune to the four directions based upon my direct experience and with books I have read over time. The healing modalities I attribute come from my direct channel. There are many maps made by many people channeling information from the thought planes. I channel in the vein of love and the voice of the divine feminine who goes by many names. I don’t claim or care to be right over others who are wrong. I am a needed voice in the variety of needed voices.

As written in the last blog…north is the physical world and here we can do the work of differentiating self from family and ancestral wounds, we can heal trauma in the body, and we can yoke mind and body through a disciplined practice which is necessary for the true self to marry and mature the ego. The north speaks to somatic healing, family systems and ancestral healing through telling the stories of the past and understanding the patterns. To do this we need to release trauma and anxiety from the body so it may support this investigation that makes self a pioneer seeking to manifest true self destiny. Healing in the north is connected to earth and hence process oriented, slow, pragmatic, and linear.

The north honors the linear progression of time in one lifetime, the linear movement of the soul through lifetimes, and the ancestral bloodline. Sometimes healing in a linear progression is the safest and best practice. For instance, if you have been through trauma in your life, it may be better to first address healing the body before processing the emotional, mental, and soul healing directions because trauma is stored in the body and is the cause of anxiety, PTSD, panic attacks, and stress. Processing the other directions before healing the body may re-traumatize you and make things worse in the long run.

I can speak of this experience myself. I healed in soul, heart and mind before receiving somatic (body) healing and as a result, my body is still very split off from my mental/emotional self and often in a state of regressed threat response which has caused me many problems in daily functioning life. Looking back now, had I known better, I would have began healing in the north and sought out therapists, healers, and practices that release trauma from the body to heal me physiologically from the PTSD and anxiety before healing through meaning-making.  Our bodies are our base.

The reason why we inherit ancestral trauma and wounding is because it never left the bodies of our ancestors, it lives in the DNA and stores itself in the next of kin. What we heal in our bodies in this life heals seven generations back and forward, they say. I feel this to be true. I like to see the ancestral bloodline as a dragon creature and each individual life in the bloodline is part of the dragon. No matter which way we look at systems, we are part of one.

The soul also travels through lifetimes in and out of our bloodlines. There are two axises here. The vertical ancestry is the soul traveling in and out of bloodlines through the lifetimes. The horizontal ancestry is our individual human self in the linear progression of the bloodline. We have ancestors in the bloodline we are born into in this life and we have ancestors from traversing many bloodlines and systems on and off planet (I will save the off planet talk for another blog.)

Healing in the north consists of releasing trauma from the body that stems from what happened to you in this lifetime and what happened to your ancestors and parents. Healing in the north is also discerning/differentiating your soul from your family and bloodline. To differentiate it is important to have a felt sense of the true self or the soul. Some people feel their authentic nature easily while others have a harder time accessing their sense of self. Analyzing the past in terms of how you, within your family of origin, operated as a system is a method that helps to gain that felt sense and differentiate the self. Releasing trauma from the body also may increase the felt sense of true self.

Past life regression may also light up the soul’s karma and what needs healing for those who are into that. Karma is what the soul has not let go within a lifetime that carries into the next lifetime. Karma is not tit for tat, this for that. If you die with guilt in your heart you will carry that guilt into your next life. If your grandmother died with shame for her body you may feel shame for your body. Karma is carried over from the vertical axis of the soul and the horizontal axis of the bloodline. To heal karma means to let go which is rooted in acceptance and forgiveness. Letting go is a mystery. There is no equation. The healing of karma happens in the west so I will save that for the west blog. The north is where we can begin to analyze and discern the karmas, sense of self, and release what is being held in the body.

In the north we honor our past lives, ancestors and the suffering they have been through. As we release trauma from the body, differentiate the self from the larger family system, and heal, it is important to understand the healing power of honoring the stories of suffering those before us (and us before) endured to give us the life we live today. We don’t want to just forget the holocaust, the colonization, the indentured servants, the slavery, the abuse, the oppression, and those who fought and died for us to go to a cafe, order a latte, and write about trauma. Tragedy exists right now for many and existed in the past, as much as we fight to overcome tragedy and bring freedom, equality and health to all people. Nature contains a structural dominance hierarchy that makes life as we know it dance with “power over” and “power under” in a strange symbiosis nobody can escape or avoid. Can we honor this?

The north requires patience and asks us to develop compassion. If you sit on a high horse judging others for their short comings you miss the point and avoid your own short comings. It might be easy for you to function in the world and incredibly hard for another to function in the world. It might be easy for you to be kind and fair while another person struggles to be kind and fair. You may be able to heal and let go of the past while another struggles and clings. We are all at different points on our soul journey.

Developing compassion for those not at your level of morality, functioning, intelligence, emotional maturity, etc is key to letting karma go and supporting the well-being of the dragon of humanity. The biggest spiritual lesson for us to learn is how to support one another instead of battle. There will always be a certain amount of battle and separation due to the dominance hierarchy of nature living through our blood, urging us to divide as well as harmonize….but we can create much more balance than we have now. The power balance is way off and not a reflection of what nature is able to provide. We heal the self to heal the dragon of humanity.

As far as therapeutic practice goes, in the north we learn how to commit and be disciplined to a practice that yokes mind to body. The actual yoking is more of an eastern healing but the commitment and discipline to the practice exists in the north. It may be that if you lack discipline and commitment that you are very critical and judgmental of yourself because it is compassion for the self that creates discipline that is rooted in love and not the force of sheer will. An astrologer once shared with me that he thought a better word for discipline is devotion. This really stuck with me. In my own experience, I gained discipline when I devoted to the healing of my body because I had reached a level of self love where healing self outweighed judging self.

Beginning healing in the north allows you to build a solid foundation. Many earth based spiritual maps (not all, there is variety) see north as the beginning because this is when the seed begins its journey in the dark soil of winter. This is how it feels to begin in the north. You are a tiny, vulnerable and tender yet strong seed holding an innate knowing of how to grow. Beginning in the north means you first release trauma and feelings from the body before mentally processing the trauma. The meaning-making you do in the north is to differentiate self and to understand self in the larger pattern of family and ancestry. You devote to a mind-body yoking practice such as meditation or yoga in the north and begin to build your foundation like the seed gaining sustenance in the soil.

Of course the way life is, we bounce all over the directions when it comes to healing because life is not an equation, it is also wild, spontaneous and beyond the linear progression of the north. I healed in the east and west for many years before I ever touched the north and south. I was in therapy in the eighties when processing trauma mentally was the thing to do to heal. I relied on mental and emotional meaning-making, ignoring healing body and will until 2010 when I began meditating and slowly moved into a yoga practice. How we progress on the healing journey is largely informed by the moment and what is available to us.

I want to end this blog with releasing any shadow rigidity the north may contain by acknowledging it. Northern shadows may show up as being too linear, rigid, stuck, systematic, empirical, narrow minded, traditional, and judgmental. If you are north heavy you are earth heavy and may need to travel to another direction to balance out.

The Defeat Story and the Transcending True Self

The story of defeat we all can relate to in different areas of life and with different levels of intensity and duration.

The term “dark night of the soul” may speak to a time in life, or a lifetime for some, where loss leads the soul on a journey of healing, redemption and transformation. We all experience the dark night when a loved one dies or we lose something precious such as our health, a job, home, reputation, partner or any fundamental experience that gives our animal natures a sense of security and satisfaction. For some, not having the fundamental experience is a life long karma. Being chronically single or in unsatisfying relationships. Being chronically impoverished or chronically ill physically, mentally, or both.

Again, the duration and intensity is different for each of us and we all can relate to the story of defeat that comes with loss or the never having. This story of defeat is groomed by culture, family of origin, and the soul’s karmic journey.

American culture places value on youth, physical beauty and health, wealth and financial independence, and being the best or number one-getting that attention. These are only a few values out of many that are highlighted while the other values are suppressed into the shadow.

Systemic cultural oppression adds to the stew pot of creating the juiciest of defeat stories. You are not valued the same way in our culture if you are a person of color, a female, in the LGBTQIA community, over the age of 40, disabled, physically or mentally challenged in any way, low in income, not American, or a child. Family of origin and our upbringing also grooms the character and contains all of the ancestral wounds, patterns, and illnesses born of an oppressive cultural narrative that lacks love, care, depth, awareness, and compassion. The soul also carries defeat stories through the lifetimes.

To be quite honest, with all of the restrictions we face, anyone who is free of the story of defeat is a living miracle! And those who claim to be may have the lofty ego compensating an insecure self hiding in the recesses of the shadow. These types project outwardly onto others as the problem. But that’s another topic.

Back to the defeat story. It is a story made by the mind based upon the felt experience of being human. If you get rejected over and over it hurts the heart and the mind will create a story such as, “I am unlovable” or “people are terrible.” For those who meet the cultural standards for what is of value, they may have all the things, the home, partner, thin body, good health, accolade, success yet still feel unworthy and defeated. Or they may suddenly get ill or lose somebody precious and face the defeat story later in life. Realistically, if the ego does not experience the defeat story it may be suppressing childhood trauma or pain and use the cultural value system unconsciously as a way to feel victorious and worthy.

On the surface our karmas look very different but get beneath the surface and we are all in the same stew pot of being human in a sick world, with most of us having endured some level and at different levels; abuse, poverty, oppression, addiction, being rejected, not receiving the proper love and care we needed as kids, and ancestral trauma. As a result, we do not know how to connect to the true self and express our uniqueness, connect with the divine or nature, connect to our philosophy of life, connect to our value system, our dreams and our true self worth.

The ego tries to compensate for defeat by achieving victory. Victory good. Defeat bad. Attention good. Lack of attention bad. Money good. Lack of money bad. Partner good. Single bad. Successful career good. Low paying job bad. Independent good. Dependent bad. Pretty good. Ugly bad. On and on.

This can also be translated into those seeking healing. Enlightenment good. Not enlightened bad. Faith good. Unfaithful bad. Love good. Hate bad. You can plug in the struggle of the soul to be whole into any value paradigm, be it the mainstream American value system or the offshoots such as the New Age, Mindfulness, Yoga, Witchy or whatever subcategory rooted in healing and wholeness of the individual. The value categories are many but all touch upon the fundamentals of relationships, security, happiness, morality, and self worth.

It is important to discern between when your ego is trying to achieve victory over defeat versus when you are authentically connected to and acting from your true self. It is also important to not judge the ego for wanting victory. We don’t judge the cute little doggie for begging for food no matter how much they won’t stop whining. The ego is a cute little doggie that can develop into a mature ego which would be the true self expressed in the world. But the ego is never something to punish, see as bad, or judge. Our egos need our love.

Having discernment between what is true self and what you have been groomed to value is a process. Transcending the victory/defeat ping pong game is also a process. We have to make a new recipe in the stew pot of the inner self and we also have to survive. Disclaimer: many don’t have the luxury to express the true self through their work and lifestyle, which is unfortunate and unfair. But everyone has the ability to transcend the victory/defeat story through connecting to the true self and being who we truly are designed to be, in character.

The true self can be felt and known even in the most grave of human experiences. But it’s not easy. Nor is it easy to make true self the inner compass, anchor, and love generator which is what is needed to transcend the victory/defeat narrative that enslaves the ego.

This blog is not a “how to” in “ten easy steps” blog. I am not about that mentality. But there are methods to help and results are real. The methods I use are fourfold which coincide with the four sacred directions.

North is the physical world and here we can do the work of differentiating self from family and ancestral wounds, we can heal trauma in the body, and we can yoke mind and body through a disciplined practice which is necessary for the true self to marry and mature the ego. The North speaks to somatic healing, family systems and ancestral healing through telling the stories of the past and understanding the patterns. To do this we need to release trauma and anxiety from the body so it may support this investigation that makes self a pioneer seeking to manifest true self destiny. Healing in the north is connected to earth and hence process oriented, slow, pragmatic, and linear.

East is the mind and here we can find the mindfulness practice that allows us to be witness to the story of defeat versus buying what it is selling. When we can watch the mental stories and the mind blah blah blahing while knowing true self is not the thoughts, we free ego from being enslaved to the story of defeat. This gives space for true self to rise up from the shadow and synthesize with the ego. No need to understand how this works. If you learn to watch your thoughts but not believe in them and if you learn how to be the witness to your mind but not identify with mind as self, the true self will rise, synthesize and become ego. The healing of the east is connected to the air, seeing the big picture like a wise eagle up in the sky.

The south is the will. Here we can heal through intention, conviction, and courage. Most of our wills are reactive to what others think of us and how the world treats us. The will is what motivates us. When we are groomed to be reactive to the outside world as the thermometer of how valuable and good we are, the will acts like a ping pong ball always bouncing around based upon circumstance and other’s opinions of self. In the south we learn how to make the will our center. Our true worth stems from the will which is a sturdy yet supple knowing within self and not a temporary emotional reaction. Learning how to live intentionally with every aspect of life builds the will. Making ritual a daily hygiene practice strengthens the will. Healing the will through releasing guilt, shame and other toxic stories connects to the work of the other directions. In the south the healing is one of purification through fire which is using courage, conviction and physical expression to burn away the old.

The west is the heart. Here we heal through connection. The attachment wounds live here and are healed here. In the west we also dive into the deep sea of the psyche to discover and awaken the true self, archetypes, wounds, gifts and all aspects hidden from ego that are asking for acknowledgment. The west is where psychological depth work is helpful to integrate the aspects of self through differentiating them. Uncovering, acknowledging, and expressing all that wants out from the unconscious happens here. This is the direction of the heart. Honoring feelings. Going with the flow of inner wisdom. Being in relationship of all kinds, romantic, therapist, healer, friend, mother, father, sibling, pet, teacher, co-worker, etc. Through being in relationship with others outside the self and aspects within the self, we heal. The heart is purified in the west which is connected to water. Water cleanses and renews. Forgiveness, acceptance, letting go and surrender all happen in the west.

This is how I see it and there are many ways to see it. In my work with clients and on myself I use this basic framework as I learn new skills along the path. I am walking it with you and beside you. Not ahead or behind. Not better or worse. There is no victory to gain over defeat. The story is a creative quest of the soul seeking sovereignty. Say that ten times fast.