A Psychological Reflection on Autoimmune Disease’s Effects on the Body and Psyche

That’s a long title up there and living with autoimmune disease feels like a long road. I am writing this blog in the spirit of sharing my personal journey to inspire you if you are also on the path of living with autoimmune disease.

I have lived with an AD since I was eleven but I did not know it was an AD until three years ago when a doctor causally said, “Oh you have Hidradenitis Suppurativa,” while giving me an exam. Before that, I only knew that I had some skin curse with no cure. I lived with it by ignoring it even though I was always dealing with it. Denial is strong.

My particular disease is ugly, insidious, painful, and a fucking cross to bear. I have immense compassion for anyone bearing the cross of AD because whichever one you have tends to be incurable and wreaks havoc on the body and psyche.

My disease caused me to feel shame my entire life. I have worked through shame by feeling it with love and letting it go. I am free of it now and it wasn’t easy to release but I did it.

In my mind, I tell myself that we all bear our crosses, all bodies are imperfect, ugliness is an aspect of life, and that being a brave advocate who knows my beauty is what can bring myself and others inspiration. I rewrote the shame story into a story of empowerment and acceptance.

I could not release shame and rewrite the story of living with AD until I got mostly in remission. Remission of my symptoms led the way for the healing of my psyche.

I say mostly in remission because I still go in and out of remission but overall I would say I am in 90% remission and it is completely connected to food and going on the AIP and ketogenic diets as a lifestyle for the long term.

I am no longer a “normie”, a term addicts use to classify those who can use alcohol or drugs in moderation without being addicted. I feel there is a big of a distinction when living with AD.

The first year I knew I had HS, I ignored it. Denial is powerful. I was in grad school and my mom was battling the cancer that would kill her a year and half later. I had no room in my psyche to face my disease. But then I did have room. I was ready in the summer of 2018.

I looked up HS online and found blogs, forums and a lot of people finding remission by going on the autoimmune paleo diet or AIP for short. I started this diet the very next day. I was desperate because my flares were so bad I was willing to try anything.

The AIP diet eliminates all sugar, grains/rice, nightshades, caffeine, seeds, nuts, alcohol, and dairy. Basically everything but organic meat (grass fed and free range), fruit, and vegetables. I switched my diet in one day, eating only chicken breast, apples, carrots, greens, and a fruit smoothie to start me off the first week.

Being a genuine food addict my entire life, I battled not having “my foods” on very deep levels, much deeper than somebody who is not addicted to food. Every day for a year I felt despair, anger, and every uncomfortable emotion yummy food had been stuffing down. I also felt isolated from my friends because I could no longer eat out or have a few drinks and I was used to doing that most days of the week.

What gave me strength to stick with it was that I went into immediate remission within weeks of staring the diet. It was a sheer miracle!

The remission did not last and new flares appeared but far less flares cropped up and they were far less severe. Remission from the severity began and has stayed with me since I began the diet and so began my journey of figuring out all of my trigger foods.

I went to a naturopath to get some help and started the journey of learning I have a huge yeast allergy and needed Vitamin D, along with other aspects I won’t get into that have helped me to deepen remission with healing the gut.

To make a very long year and a half journey short, I learned that yeast, nuts, seeds, grains, dairy, sugar, beans, fruit and many vegetables are trigger foods. I learned that I need to not only do AIP but I need to go ketogenic because insulin is a trigger. I need to cut out all fruit completely and keto adapt so my body uses fat instead of glucose as fuel. This has greatly improved remission.

I reintroduced alcohol the night my mother died in the beginning of 2019. I learned I can drink hard spirits with nothing added but I cannot touch beer or wine. I learned I can eat eggs (so far). I can also have coffee in moderation.

I tried nuts and bacon but after a few months they became triggers. This happened with avocado and broccoli. Some foods cause immediate flares while other foods build up and then cause flares. The journey is constant and never ending.

I learned that lectins, phytates, and oxalates are poison to my body and this is why vegan foods harm me which is another aspect I have had to grieve. I have the heart of a vegan. I spent many years of my life eating vegan and vegetarian unknowing of how sick it was making me. Now I am a carnivore. I had to let go of my treasured belief system so my body could be healthy.

I have grieved and continue to grieve the loss of food as addiction, celebration, and comfort. Emotional eating is over. Eating out with friends is over. Eating to “treat myself” is over. Normies say that all the time, “treat yourself”. But if I treat myself with food I get a huge flare and it’s just not worth it. The treat is poison.

Those of us with AD who go AIP, keto or both to heal cannot treat ourselves with food because it makes us feel like complete shit. I tell myself that food is fuel and nothing else. This is my new story.

Don’t count me in when you make celebratory food plans. I have no desire to celebrate Thanksgiving because I can’t eat the food and from now on, I am done thinking I need to partake of any holiday with food. When I travel food will not be part of the adventure. When a partner comes into my life he will have to live with food being only fuel for me too.

I like the foods I can eat. I like eggs in the morning, salmon, Brussel sprouts, cauliflower, chicken breast, coconut milk, burgers, steak, and arugula. I am satisfied when I eat even though not a day goes by I don’t crave cheese, bread, hot pepper, beer, tacos….I mean, the grief is real and the loss is daily. I compare myself to an addict in sobriety taking it one day at a time.

What feels amazing is being mostly in remission all of the time. My body is healing on deep levels too, beyond just remission of symptoms. I am healing my organs, gut, skin, bones, losing weight, and all anxiety is completely gone. Within a month of the AIP diet all anxiety left my psyche as anxiety truly does live in the body. Within a month of being keto and AIP my ability to focus greatly increased and my energy levels began to even out. The healing continues.

I love that I eat like my ancestors. I feel that how I eat connects me to them. I feel more rooted to the earth. My sleep is pristine and I no longer suffer from insomnia. I have become strong and disciplined in every aspect of my life. I exercise five to six days a week. I do what I say I will do in terms of my daily and long term goals. I can handle anything, is what it feels like.

I have no anxiety, no procrastination, no split in the psyche where what I want and how I behave are out of alignment. I have come into a much more profound sense of self love, ease, and integrity. My psyche has never been healthier and more at peace.

Funny, how each day I feel loss and cravings but each day I feel at peace with myself.

I no longer respond to loss and cravings with fear or resistance. I have learned the power of surrender. I accept loss, pain, and my AD. Grief is not something I need to avoid anymore. I am no longer in denial of the dark side of life. I am at peace with my limitations, the ugly, and all that is hard.

For now, I have whisky, mezcal, and coffee with coconut milk as pleasures I can still indulge in. I cannot overdo it so I drink in moderation and I am also willing to let these drinks go the moment my health needs it.

I have become so emotionally strong that I no longer depend on any food, drink, or substance to keep me feeling ok or to enjoy life. I cannot stress what a big deal this is as I have been a food addict and hedonist my entire life, always using food as comfort and enjoying the party. Now, I can find comfort and enjoy the party in a new way.

I am in the process of learning how be a hedonist in new ways that are good for my health. Sexual expression is something most people never explore fully and is one of our greatest gifts as human beings. No shame. What possibilities exist to explore and merge with another soul on a sexual level and experience deeper levels of pleasure, replenishment, and love?

How can my body express through any form of movement that brings heightened pleasure? Dance, hiking, sky diving, fire walking, floating, strolling….

There are many possibilities.

I find hedonistic pleasure in essential oils, incense, crystals, flowers, the beauty of nature, fashion, putting on make-up and dressing up. I find hedonistic pleasure in gazing at art, listening to music, and reading books. There is so much to imbibe and indulge in that is not food and drink. I also feel immense satisfaction when I paint, write, sing, and express myself creatively.

AD has transformed me for the better.

I know in my heart of hearts that AD is connected to multigenerational trauma. Interesting that my mother and father both had the same AD as me.

My mother had it killed with near lethal amounts of antibiotics from a certain doctor in Vegas who had his theory. I believe this treatment destroyed her gut and led to many health issues to follow. She eventually got colon cancer. I do not follow in her footsteps with my AD and for very few has antibiotic treatment worked. My father said he stopped having flares in his fifties and that it just went away. I can only hope for such a healing to happen to me. I cannot count on it.

For now, I must eat keto/AIP to stay in remission but I am thankful for this diet beyond being in remission because I am healing my body completely, healing multigenerational trauma, healing completely from anxiety, and healing food addiction all while transforming into a stronger, more centered, disciplined, equanimous, and poised individual who is no longer dependent on “the cookie”.

It has taken a year and half to get to this place of love, strength, balance and health that is not static or fixed. Like I said, I still get flares and have to figure out why. I still feel loss for food and cravings rise up all the time (though going keto took away 80% of all food cravings). There’s always work to be done and progress to be made in body and mind. Just like in a yoga pose, you need a constant focus to stay balanced.

If you are reading this and have AD, I hope to provide you with some inspiration from sharing my story. Food truly is the biggest culprit of many if not most of AD symptoms.

AD seems to be rooted in generational trauma passed down through the DNA and from diet. The AIP diet works and for some of you, keto will also work.

Western medicine still looks down upon all holistic routes but go ahead and let them. If you dedicate yourself to trying the diet for 30-90 days you will experience the results for yourself. You can reintroduce certain foods after the initial period and begin cultivating the exact diet that works for you.

Will power gets easier over time as you adapt and your body feels better as it adjusts too. Anxiety will diminish and you will become more disciplined and emotionally independent.

Grief is real for no longer being a normie and getting to eat what you want but there is liberation in no longer fearing grief. Life is suffering, Buddha said. If we face the suffering with an open heart, willingness, and a mindful approach that does not resist limitation, pain and loss then suffering will transform your soul from a mud ball into a pearl and your body will be a sanctuary living with illness.

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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 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.

 

Many Voices, One Center…

There are as many perspectives on healing as there are healers who are healing, scientists who are researching, philosophers who are contemplating, poets who are dreaming, and artists who are creating. It’s up to you to choose which focus or path resonates with who you are and what works best for you. Do you know who you are and what resonates with who you are? Do you know what is best for you?

Complex trauma tends to shatter the ego from an early age, submerging aspects of the self into the shadow. Multigenerational wounds stemming from cultural and family of origin mistreatment wait patient on the dark sea floor until transpersonal and instinctual forces lift them up toward the surface for the ego to see. How often we don’t see the wounds because we project them onto our dearest loved ones or the world or the self in a negative fashion. The message gets lost. The story of pain morphs into body ailments and rejection. The true self is not heard among the clatter of other voices; mother, grandmother, brother, great grandfather, teacher, authoritarian voice imposing shame.

Dive deeper if you believe and recover past lives in or out of the bloodline, in or out of the earth or milky way, where guilt and defeat collected in the belly of your soul…or maybe it was victory and power that collected, usually it’s a mixture of every feeling not worked out, over glorified, shunned by the ego or ignorant to the soul. Our tapestry of karma tells tales as sentimental as a delicately woven blanket made by the hands of an experienced and wise elder. You don’t need to believe in past lives or even the true self to understand that the mind, conscious and unconscious, creates a multitude of stories based on what we experience.

It is never just one story. It is never all or nothing, black and white…well, except when it is (which sometimes is really is). Sometimes we must pick a side and fight and some things resonate as wrong or right deep down beneath logic, such as unnecessary killing, suffering, violence, and abuse. But when it comes to be a human being, we do not hold only one perspective, one way of being, one karma, or one destiny. The conscious self, or ego, wishes it to be one thing and tries its hardest to think one way and have one truth to create one outcome, in a sweet attempt to mirror wholeness. But wholeness is not having one perspective to make one outcome happen.

Wholeness is getting back in touch with our center (soul, true self) that is able to balance and contain the multitude of who we are. For life is always moving and changing. Simple appearances hide complexity. Nothing is really solid even if it appears so to the eyeball. All atoms are moving about and there is a ton of space between them. Split atoms and space keeps getting bigger and containing more complexity. The ego sees what it needs to see to adapt to the world. The eye sees what it needs to see to adapt to the ego. As your consciousness (or frequency) changes, so does your perspective. This is how the soul evolves. If the ego can let go of rigidity and open gently to the vastness within, it wont repress this evolution, it wont create a great divide.

The past is happening now and the future is happening now too but on other dimensions that would shatter the ego just as trauma can do but shatter the ego to the point of no return. We have limitations for a reason. Linear time is a needed limitation but my point is more emotional than philosophical. Our ancestor’s wounds live as alive in this moment as they did when they happened according to linear time. These wounds live inside of us. If you believe in past lives, same goes. In this life, same goes for what we experienced in childhood. Same goes for the future too but I think to speak of this would wax too philosophical for this blog.

The voices of our ancestors, mother, father, siblings, culture, past lives, lives on other dimensions, lives as other sentient forces…all lives live in the unconscious mind in a non-linear fashion, alive as ever and very naturally. The unconscious is the sea containing everything.

On one hand, you can spend your life digging up ancestral, past life, family of origin, and other-dimensional karma, never reaching an end point to the healing but always refining, evolving and liberating your soul in the process. On the other hand, when you know in your feelings that all of these stories are not Self and you find your Self in breath over and over through the practice of some form of meditation, while continuing to open and purify your heart through feeling your feelings, you may heal just as effectively without going into any stories, conscious or unconscious.

I have healed from both these modalities equally. I have also grown tremendously from good old fashioned cognitive-behavioral mindfulness and using my conscious will to re-author my life stories. I have also transformed deeply from making art out of pain to honor the feelings and stories of suffering. And these are still only a few modalities of healing out of many. My true self finds the most effectiveness from using these five modalities and each speaks to a different voice inside. The breakdown:

Bringing the wounding, personality traits, true self and gifts out from the shadow connected to the family/cultural system and bloodline is what allows me to be in the world and in relationships as a differentiated being, true to herself and in loving relation that honors the differentiation in others. This work is most powerful for me in letting go of identifying with the the wounds I carry, being my real self with others, and in aligning my heart and will so that when I say I want to do something, I am more likely to do it. This work is always in progress.

Bringing the wounding, personality traits, true self and gifts out from the shadow connected to past lives on earth and on other dimensions transformed my sense of self and life itself on a very zoomed out level. In the zenith of this awakening some very chronic and severe symptoms fell away, never to return. This healing journey along with reconnecting with the divine feminine, awakened my calling to be a healer. Knowing the story of my soul beyond this world anchors me to this lifetime.

Finding my Self in breath and knowing in my feelings that the stories of the soul are not the Self gives me a direct experience of inner peace and equanimity, leading me to my center, over and over. Also, I am able to hold the stories of my soul with a lighter footprint when I am anchored to breath as Self, first and foremost. This is the Tao so to speak, it is beyond language.

Mindfulness-based CBT is the work that helps me not get stuck in stories and helps me choose to re-author my life stories, cause to be frank, I am not a huge meditator. I do meditative yoga about four times a week and I am always the observer watching myself but I do not specifically meditate every single day. I do use mindful CBT almost every day, along with narrative work to not sink into story and to keep my center vibrant and creative. This work also helps the feelings to express and pass through me like weather, allowing suffering to be used as grist to evolve.

Creative expression is my home base. I will not let go of a soul story unless I turn it into art. This is because I have a fervent attachment to honoring painful stories. I do not believe forgetting is healthy. I believe we must always remember our history and how suffering is caused, how power is misused, how lives are harmed, how abuse is formed and how it steals the life force and autonomy from the individual. When I turn abuse into a novel, a shattered ego into a painting, or heart break into a poem, history is honored and I can let go of identifying with the wound. I embrace the open broken heart through creative expression. Ritual, singing, cooking, ceremony, painting, writing, are some of the ways I engage in daily.

These are the modalities that work best for me and this is why I use them with clients. I connect to the wounded healer archetype and am called to be healer from my personal experience. I don’t claim to be in expert though I have a lot of experience. I do not seek power but I also admit that in my shadow there is a woman who is learning to empower herself. Once the story of empowerment is fully honored she will transcend empowerment, not needing to become stronger than her oppressors or be in a dialect with them. The story will evaporate and change as all stories do when we give them conscious embodiment, space to breathe, and time to express.

I treasure my humanity and no longer feel shame for my vulnerability, wounds, or weaknesses. We all share the same shame and it’s ok to feel it, know it, express it, let it go and laugh at our collective self-consciousness while not forgetting the horrible abuse that stole our freedom. We can use the pain to transform and reclaim our autonomy. Holding the tension of opposites allows the masculine and feminine aspects of each one of us to have a voice; to evolve and to honor what is without changing it into something else.

My intention in writing this blog is to spark your center. What modalities resonate with you and why? You may or may not know. We each have our own path to healing. I offer what I offer as a healer and I have plenty of referrals to give out in my community. I think it is important to never give your power away to a healer. Nobody knows more than you know about your inner self. The right healer for you will evoke a feeling of rightness inside, bring out your soul stories, help you to find your center and to come home to your true self. If these words don’t resonate, no worries.

Sometimes there is chafing, conflict, or transference, where new perspectives get cracked open, trust needs building, or projection emerges in the relationship between healer and client so that the client may heal. This opportunity is golden. There is a difference between the golden opportunity of healing conflict and not resonating with a healer. If it’s the former you usually get a big emotional reaction and if it’s the latter, you may feel more annoyed than upset, more unaffected or just…off.

Approaching healing from different perspectives, in my opinion, is most effective. I cannot imagine eliminating any of the modalities that I use and I am always open to more. Some modalities fade away over time and new ones take their place. I would not be surprised if one day I ditch some modalities completely. We are ever changing and evolving. I remain unattached to all modalities except one. Creative expression is my home of homes, this I know to be true. What do you know know to be true?