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.

 

 

 

 

A Different Blog…

To be honest and frank…and in the spirit of transparency….I admit I am tired of writing “how to” or “this is what it is” type of blogs on the topics of healing.

I have been on the healing path my entire life. Healing is so much a part of who I am because it is my life long journey, my work and my soul purpose. I have many years under my belt now and from this lived experience I will say that the most effective healing tool, for me, is love.

Love as compassion, acceptance, forgiveness, letting go, inspiration, creativity, connecting with the transpersonal (divine) and with self and with others.

I have traversed a huge plethora of healing modalities in the metaphysical and psychological world. CBT, EMDR, Hypnosis, NLP, Shamanic healing, past life regression, astrology, tarot, Reiki, crystals, Kabbala and magic, attachment theory, family systems, depth psychology, on and on….all have been very helpful for me and most of these modalities I use on myself and with those I work with….

And…

Still…

The greatest healer, time and time again, is purifying the heart to let more love in.

Love is peace that lasts.

Happiness is fleeting as is pleasure and pain. But love is a stable solid foundational energy within that makes the difficult and painful moments tolerable and something to grow from.

Love connects us to our true source of power within that cannot be taken away by anyone or anything no matter how unjust or tragic… and…

Love also tempers the joy so that it doesn’t turn into addiction or an escape hatch.

But I am not going to write a blog on “how to love” or “this is what love is”.

I feel compelled to simply….write from the heart.

I pulled a few oracle cards this morning on what to write about and these three cards showed up: Memory, Harmony, Anguish.

Perfect timing with the new moon in Libra of which I do not want to explain either. There are many astrologers to refer to on this. My favorite is Kaypacha who puts out the free “Pele report” you can find on YouTube every week.

Anyhow…my clear intention this morning is to write on these three words, from the heart.

Anguish is a feeling most people run away from like it is the plague.

I tell myself and all of my clients the same thing on repeat, feelings are nothing more than chemical storms coursing through the body.

You are not your feelings.

Feelings cannot harm you.

Feelings do not last.

There is nothing to fear about anguish and yet fear is a feeling to also learn to not fear….(the paradox is always present).

I know anguish very well. I feel anguish for the state of humanity and this country. I feel anguish for every child, elder person, and animal enduring abuse. I feel anguish for the homeless and mentally ill. I feel anguish for my own sense of deep unmet soul longing that flares from starvation.

I don’t fear anguish and when it courses through me in a storm of emotion, I watch the storm as I cry, wail, bitch, paint, write, or however anguish expresses….

Then, like magic, the anguish that is not me leaves my body and is gone forever…or until the next storm.

I used to wrap up anguish in a story that said I was bad, wrong, not good enough, not loved, and other negative interpretations created by a youthful me, that stuck like glue as stories do.

It took a long time to learn how to detach from the stories and not identify with them anymore.

Did you ever see the movie, “A Beautiful Mind”? That movie is the perfect metaphor for learning to detach from the story. That brilliant man in the film (a true story) needed to learn to ignore his best friends because they were delusions. He did not feel them to be fake but they were.

The stories of anguish can feel so real but they are not real. They are delusions.

Humans are delusional creatures. Look at the state of our world. Look how we hate, judge, create moral systems, religions, principals, and ideas about what life is and what life should be.

I know many people believe in a being in the sky who decreed it all and that’s their right to to believe as I have my right to believe. Whose to say who is accurate?

Who is the judge of reality?

Nobody or God? Yourself?

I pay more attention to wanting every human to experience love, equality and freedom more than I care to know the facts about the metaphysical nature of reality. This is my heart’s desire and stand by it.

My metaphysical interpretation of life is solid but I am always willing for it to evolve and I always take it with a grain of salt.

Love, freedom, and equality for all people, on the other hand, comes first and I will not budge on this ever.

The New Age, witchy and metaphysical communities can be as arrogant, narrow minded, and dogmatic as fundamental religion or atheism communities, even if only the religious extremists are the violent ones.

The need to be right, feel powerful, have power and relevance in the world lives in all of us in the shadow if we don’t own it.

I own my desire for power so it doesn’t stink up my shadow. Our human nature is our human nature. I want love to rule and I too, like us all, am a self centered desirous animal. I have no shame around this.

I do have shame though. We all do.

Shame, like anguish, is only a chemical storm coursing through the body. It is not me. Or you. This leads me to the next word.

Memory….

Shame rises up strong in me when I think back to my past. I feel so much embarrassment when I compare myself to others or feel the weaknesses that exist in my temperament. Oh well. I let the shame pass through.

Look, my shadow is dark alley way filled with despair but I don’t live there. Sometimes I fall into this alley way and suddenly I feel lost and confused.

I have learned to tell when I fall into my alley. It’s usually in the body I notice first. Anxiousness rises up in me. I may also notice that I feel young like a child and insecure like something too soft and vulnerable.

Soon as I notice I am in the alley,  I am no longer in the alley as much because I am witnessing being in the alley from that point on….

Awareness creates distance and detachment, it’s so cool!

Developing the witness is the whole entire thing Buddhism is about. I dig it. I live it. I would say that at the very core of my mind is a Buddhist monk.

My spirit is not a monk though. My spirit is Blue Lily Storm here to return people to their inner source of power and tear down outdated structures, cleanse and purify like storms do. My spirit is not concerned with mental anything but is more a force of nature that seeks to transform energy. My spirit is a conveyer belt of transformation…

My soul is a gypsy wandering through lifetimes, a karmic being sewing a tapestry of time….Danu, Isis, Sophia, the goddess in many forms longing to tell the story of what really happened in humanity’s past that is still hidden. My soul longs to share this myth. She has no pragmatism at all in her nature….and she roots only to wisdom, nothing in the physical…

Luckily, my Animus, which was born the moment my soul entered this body, is a stoic masculine force who finds peace in emptiness to balance out all of the passionate feminine. My inner masculine has light eyes and weathered salty skin who spends most of his time contemplating within. He believes in nothing and steeps in the vastness, He likes to create things and finish works…

Did you know that falling in love is when we are struck by the arrow of our Anima or Animus in another person? All of us have an inner compensating force to balance out the conscious self we identify with…I love that, it’s such a brilliant trick!

I am waxing poetic and sharing some of my personal self…busting the old system that therapists need to be blank slates. I will not share very much of my personal life and what I share I hand pick with intention, keeping it pertinent to healing or for inspiration but I will not be a blank slate. Down with that old crusty perception!

We are all in this together and I just so happen to have a lot of experience, intuition and knowledge which makes me a good guide.

We cannot escape that we are mirrors for each other all the time…

Harmony is remembering this so we own our own shadow, see every relationship as a healing opportunity and purify our hearts to love more…and more…

We cannot escape the personal connection between each of us at all times. Boundaries are needed. My boundaries are firm and supportive and I will say, it took a solid five years of intense work. How are your boundaries?

Boundaries are the most vital aspect next to love it feels to me, because if you lose the boundary between your true self and the story or the feeling inside, you lose your center. Just like your sense of self can shatter in the energy of another person it can also shatter in the energy of yourself.

If you can keep your sense of self firm and centered in the presence of every feeling and story that courses through you then you can keep your sense of self firm and centered in the presence of another, no matter who they are…..

When sense of self s firm and centered you are in harmony.

Love is the firm center.

 

 

Vulnerability and Attachment Wounds in Romantic Relationship

This blog is inspired by the topic of vulnerability. I wanted to write about it after writing about the sacred emptiness because vulnerability is what births inside the chrysalis of sacred emptiness.

A new form of vulnerability births in the emptiness…based upon attachment wound healing…that opens us up to a more joyful and fulfilling experience of being vulnerable.

Attachment wounding is the root of not being able to be vulnerable in relationship with others and self. Attachment healing turns the tables and allows vulnerability to become a secure and happier experience.

My reflections on attachment will be very brief and stream of consciousness…

If you want to know more in detail there are a ton of books, Youtube videos and podcasts on attachment theory.  I highly recommend listening to the “Psychology Today” podcast. The subscription is only $5 dollars a month for many deep dives into pertinent psychological topics. Kirk Honda is my favorite describer of attachment theory (and any topic in psychology) as he makes content accessible to everyone with a harmonious blend of knowledge and heart.

This is my reflection on vulnerability and attachment today….

Our brains are the place we develop our personality (ego) very early on in life (infant to about age seven) based upon how we are parented by our prime caretakers. The personality formation is strongest the younger we are and gets cemented after age seven.

Our attachment style is the aspect of the personality that relates with others and with self. It is the way in which we desire relationship, behave in relationship, and express vulnerability.

The romantic parter most closely mirrors the prime caretaker and hence, we face our attachment style/wounds the strongest in romantic partnering yet attachment styles show up in every single relationship including the one you have with yourself.

You do not need to have experienced trauma or abuse to have an attachment wound. If you have endured trauma and abuse your wounds are specific to that yet a child can develop a very deep attachment wound in a home with zero abuse and no big traumas.

The avoidant attachment style/wound (often broken down into anxious avoidant and dismissive avoidant) is created by the prime caretaker(s) not tending to the child’s emotions. There is no emotional attunement. The parent(s) do not talk about feelings or they may see emotions as weak, dismiss them, or avoid them. Boys may be more apt to be taught to repress their emotions due to cultural conditioning as well.

As with everything psychological, avoidance shows up as a spectrum. How much did your caretaker(s) avoid your feelings and avoid feelings in the home between family members? There tends to be a basic structure in the avoidant home with bedtime, meals, routines with school, etc and there may also be morals taught and other principals that foster the mind but the emotional realm of the child is not seen, acknowledged or nurtured.

Avoidant style people do not feel safe in close relationships because they feel cut-off from their own feelings. They experience anxiety around intimacy and tend to use dismissive remarks or behaviors to maintain a certain level of detachment, independence and aloofness in relationship. They either believe they do not need intimacy or they push intimacy away in a variety of ways that may be unconscious (flippant remarks, sexual impotency or lack of desire, minimizing issues and the feelings of the partner) or conscious (having a strong belief about the independence they feel gives them strength, for instance or saying they are not relationship oriented).

The avoidant style is often called the island.

Anxious attachment style people (often called preoccupied or ambivalent) is created when the prime caretaker(s) sometimes tune in to the child’s emotions and sometimes ignore them. The key is inconsistency in attunement and often anxiety connected to emotional attunement when it is present. There is some semblance of structure in this attachment style as if there were no structure in the home it would fall under the disorganized attachment style but the structure does tend to be as inconsistent as the emotional attunement. Maybe meals and bedtimes are not always around the same time or maybe the structure is generally chaotic though the child is fed, taken to school, and put to bed at some point. Perhaps the child switches homes a lot or is handed off in a chaotic fashion. The anxious attachment style is often referred to as the wave.

To be clear, emotional attunement is when the care taker responds to the child’s feelings, names the feelings for the child so they may learn to name feelings themselves, nurtures the child when upset and models how to tend to feelings in a loving way no matter what feeling is arising. Emotional attunement when secure in the caretaker, does not cause intense anxiety. The caretaker is not anxious when the child is hurting nor are they living in anxious fear of the child getting hurt in the unforeseeable future.

Anxious attachment creates a person who is not sure if they are loved. Do you love me now? How about now? If you find out (insert trait here) about me will you still love me? The anxious person needs constant validation and reassurance that they are loved. They don’t have any consistent sense of being tended to that is imbedded in their sense of self. They fear love leaving, being abandoned, and being betrayed. They may put themselves at constant fault for creating abandonment or they may build a false case where their partner will leave them due to (insert criticism here).

The wave is very overt with their insecurity and feelings. The island is very covert as beneath every island is a wave but the island is too anxious to deluge. Avoidant people want intimacy deep down underneath their fear just as much as the overt wave. It’s as if islands have an extra defense mechanism around their anxiety that the waves do not posses and this is molded by how we are parented. 

The wave is usually the pursuer of the island. Islands and waves tend to attract each other because the island needs the overt display and pursuit of the wave for them to feel loved and the wave is used to feeling insecure about not being loved and very familiar and comfortable with chasing the unavailable island. It’s a recipe for healing or disaster depending on how willing and skilled the partners are in dealing with these wounds. Without skill or willingness the island first pushes the wave away and then the wave overwhelms the island when they express needing more and this pushes the island away more until both express extreme versions of avoiding and deluging. 

Disorganized attachment is molded in the brain when the there is abuse in the home, major trauma, or the care taker(s) do not provide adequate structure or emotional attunement to the point where it is neglect. Disorganized people may vacillate between being an island and a wave, never feeling a consistent sense of self. The disorganized wound is chaotic and never follows a certain pattern other than the pattern of not being patterned.

Not having a strong sense of self is also the case for the island and the wave. Sense of self is developed in the brain by the child being emotionally attuned to and given proper structure by the caretaker(s). This is a literal process that happens in the brain (mirror neurons) that forms sense of self in relationship with others, self, and the world. With all attachment styles other than secure attachment, the sense of self is shattered in varying qualities and degrees of intensity based upon upbringing mixed with temperament (nature and nurture).

The temperament (soul, true self, the mysterious uniqueness we each posses) of the child plays a big if not a bigger role in the shaping of the sense of self.

A shattered sense of self is the attachment wound.

Secure attachment happens when there is no trauma or abuse and the caretaker(s) tune into the child’s feelings in a nurturing and loving way while also providing the child with a consistent structure. This assures the child develops a healthy sense of self if there is no trauma or abuse outside the home and if the child is not born with a struggling temperament due to multigenerational wounds or a past life wound (if you believe in this).

It is important to note that a child may also absorb anxiety from any family member conflict even if it has nothing to do with them. Families usually have the one “healer” or empath of the family who tends to absorb the anxiety from other family members and become mentally or physically sick as a result. These types are more apt to struggle and often cannot discern their feelings from the feelings of others due to their sensitivity levels yet they are also meant to be as sensitive as they are because they are the healers of this world.

Attachment wounds also present inwardly with self. For instance, you can have a disorganized attachment with yourself where sometimes you tune into your feelings and validate yourself, sometimes you avoid your feelings using some form of addiction or avoidance to ignore them, and sometimes you tend to your feeling but feel filled with anxiety and self doubt about whether you are good enough.

You can also express different styles consciously and unconsciously. For instance, you can be a wave consciously and an island unconsciously by consciously wanting and choosing intimate partnership yet always unconsciously attracting unavailable islands…or…when you attract an available partner you really like, you start pushing them away by finding fault with them at every turn. In this way the island and wave within the self and in partnership tries to find harmony.

The healing of attachment wounds is rooted in learning how to be vulnerable in the relational field and with self. This starts to show up when you no longer need to build a case against self or the partner, drink booze or take recreational drugs to feel comfortable, lay on the criticism, demand proof that you are loved, or push away the other with conscious or unconscious tactics of any kind.

Being vulnerable and intimate looks like letting each other in your feelings, communicating your feelings, being transparent about your feelings, and tending to one another’s feelings….whether during an argument, when times are rough, or during times of passion, joy, and tenderness. It means showing the real you and allowing yourself to trust your partner.

First you may need to do this for yourself but this is not always the requirement. Some people heal more through being vulnerable with a partner (or friend) first. We can build a sense of self love by going within and being alone and also through being in a relationship. It takes the right relationship if it is the latter. You cannot build a sense of self love with a partner who is unable to create intimacy and be vulnerable with you much of the time. Maybe not all the time, as we are flawed beings learning how to love….but a good chunk of the time at the very least.

Also, if you are an island, being vulnerable and close with another may not feel good for a long time. Perhaps years. You have to be willing to enter the not feeling good zone and go through the anxiety and fear. You have to be willing to enter intimacy with more courage to learn how to be vulnerable in the first place. This may feel awkward and challenge your avoidant personality that has protected you for so long. You have to learn how to trust another to care about you and you have to learn how to want to be cared about.

If you are a wave you may enjoy intimacy and even being vulnerable but you come on like a deluge every time you get triggered. This is important to understand for the island and the wave…

The moment you are triggered your animal brain takes the driver’s seat and your higher mind takes a hike. This means that you go into flight/fight/freeze mode and you cannot come out of it through logic, talking, or anything cognitive. When the wave is triggered they deluge the partner who is usually an island. When the island is triggered by the deluge they minimize the communication from the anxious wave which then triggers the wave more who thinks the island is a jerk which triggers the island more who thinks the wave is crazy and the storm intensifies into destruction.

When you get triggered in the relational field all you can do is breathe, touch, and/or take space from the other in order for the higher mind to get back in the driver’s seat. If you both are triggered, stop arguing and breathe, touch one another or allow one person to take some space. Nothing will change how to recover from a trigger because it is brain chemistry. Skill is vital when learning how to become vulnerable in a way that creates feeling more safety and joy.

Most of us are used to vulnerability feeling scary, disappointing, taxing, overwhelming and leading to our detriment. Islands build a mote around them acting like they don’t need a partner or intimacy, in order to survive. Waves desperately try to make the partner their one safe place in all of life’s pain and chaos. Both feel slayed by vulnerability. Both need to learn how to build trust through building a sense of self.

This is the key of all keys. Building a sense of self.

When you have a strong and solid sense of self you can allow yourself to trust getting hurt in the relational field because you can return to yourself as the safe place.

This is the healing of codependency, toxic unions, and everything relational. When you no longer fear being hurt, rejected, disappointed, broken up with, being single, or left alone because you have a safe, reliable, and loving sense of self to return to if the worst happens. Life never gives us a guarantee in the external world so we need the self to be the security and foundation. Islands, don’t contort this to mean you don’t need intimacy in one form or another. The sense of self is a home base and not an escape hatch to avoid the relational field.

It can be safe and feel fulfilling to be vulnerable in the relational field if you build your sense of self and love yourself with more emotional attunement and loving structure. You won’t give your power away to the partner or to addiction or avoidance. You can handle emotional pain and discomfort and in turn, experience a form of joy in relationship that arises only by being tuned in and true to self. Reparenting the self blossoms us into our true self.

True self creates vulnerable and intimate relationships that heal and fulfill our essential needs and desires in waves…and when the waves wane we can return to self for sustenance on a healthy island that can still welcome the other….

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

How to Connect with Loved Ones in the Spirit World

This blog is inspired by the death of my mother. We all go through the journey of saying goodby to our mother or a dear loved one when they pass on.

Per usual, I disclaim this blog by prefacing that I will write it as if it is truth. It is my truth. Maybe it is your truth too. If not, no worries, mate. Carry on. There are many aspects of grief, death and dying to explore. This blog will be about making contact with loved ones on the other side.

On a side note I would like to mention that as I type these words I am bathed in my mother’s favorite perfume because I bought it yesterday when I spotted it at the drugstore. It was the last box of L’air du Temps left. Means “The air of time. ” How appropriate on a metaphorical level. Wearing her scent brings me comfort and also helps me to feel her soul in my soul.

When you die your soul travels to the other side of the veil. We can have no literal concept of the other side so we must allow the imagination and intuition to give us pictures and concepts that are a metaphorical version to help us understand as best we can. The key is to feel the other side and this is done through creative visualizing and feeling the intuition.

Imagination is not an empty thing that is pure make believe. There is a make believe element but imagination is how we communicate with the layers of existence undetectable through the five senses.

Intuition is the feeling of knowing we all have and the other main faculty that helps us access what cannot be detected by the empirical senses.

It is what is is. I don’t want to convince you of my truth. There are many layers of consciousness beyond the five senses. To claim the five human senses are the only detectors of the vastness of existence is very limiting though you may still not believe or feel what I am sharing as the truth. I honor the differences.

This blog is for those who wish to understand and contact their loved ones on the other side and who resonate with these words. Trust yourself.

Souls do different things when they pass on. Existence is vast and not a factory where every soul goes through the exact same process. Most earth bound humans, upon death, do spend time resting (especially if the death was sudden, severe, or the life before death very trying) and then they have a period of life review. Read “Journey of Souls” to delve deeper into this process.

The rest and life review part of the journey helps the soul metabolize all that happened in the lifetime, without the limitations of the human suit.

The human body is a suit of emotional heaviness and density. All stories we tell about our life and all feelings live in the body not the soul. Betrayal, abandonment, depression, despair, rage, suffering,  fear, hatred, resentment (etc etc) are all based on attachment to what is right and wrong, painful and pleasurable, and these dichotomies and attachments do not exist in the spirit world.

The spirit world soul tells a different tale and knows that earth is a school to learn how to love as a separate being and work out the karma that builds up as a result of being an individual body.

Karma is the emotional residue we collect through lifetimes when we don’t let go, forgive, accept and free the soul of the stories and feelings that attach to it from the human experience.

On earth the soul takes on a body and is able to play with being separate, able to cause hurt and being hurt by other separate individuals. Same goes with causing joy, pleasure, and every emotional experience. This is a big deal because once the soul enters the spirit world it is no longer an individual.

I mean, it is to a certain extent. The soul holds on the art project of being a singular being for growth and experience’s sake but the soul experiences true connectedness to all of life from being an aspect of a soul group all the way to being an aspect of oneness.

The more the soul ascends the more collective it becomes, all the way until it returns to oneness. As the soul descends, it takes on the costume of being one individual to experience, learn, grow, and play.

Both ascension and descension of the soul are equal in the evolution of the soul because the soul is an aspect of oneness descending to play the part of being embodied to evolve through the journey back to itself as oneness. Forever this goes on like the infinity symbol demonstrates.

Once we die on earth we lose our human suit, rest, review our life and see what’s next.

Some souls have a choice about what is next and others are sucked back in to the next life with no choice. The ability to choose has everything to do with how conscious the soul becomes in a lifetime.

The more conscious and aware you become during your lifetime on earth, the more you have the empowerment of choice to create your destiny. You can say no to what comes your way or not allow what hurts you to take all your power and you can use your inner source of power to create your life as best you can in the circumstances you are given. Those with little awareness live by the whims and patterns of external fate.

This process is the same when the body dies and the soul travels to the other side of the veil.

The more self awareness, love, and letting go we achieve in a lifetime, the more choice we have on the other side. Those who live unconsciously die unconsciously and those who live consciously die consciously.

Nature is being nature here as life never truly dies but always transforms and changes based upon the living experience.

There is no static place called heaven or hell that you go to forever based upon the judgement of an external god. That is a story of the mind. If you believe in that myth that is your right and this blog is not for you.

Once the soul has rested and reviewed they either choose what they will do next or they are magnetized into the next lifetime by the power of their attachments, to work out their karma.

But this process is not linear. Linear time does not exist in the spirit world. We cannot literally conceptualize the vastness of the other side of the veil. A soul can exist in the spirit world and reincarnate at the same time. A soul may choose to become a spirit guide and stick around the earth plane while also reincarnating. A soul may have several individual bodies on the earth plane and not all of them human. The variety is endless.

Communication with a soul on the other side is almost always possible if the soul is not in a deep sleep or has left this universe completely.

The deceased soul may be trying to reach you too.

A soul on the spirit plane may have a hard time contacting a soul embodied on earth because we create energetic blocks with our thoughts and feelings.

If you are still in the stage of grief where self pity, depression, anger, bartering, feeling abandoned or betrayed are still active stories and feelings, it will be hard for the soul to make contact. These dense feelings and stories are like a thick wall for the soul on the other side. This is not always the case because anything is possible and no judgement for being in whatever stage of grief you are in for however long you are in it.

Acceptance is a process of grief with its own sense of timing and all of our feelings are valid.

Souls on the other side often make contact through scent, electronics, and dreams.

We used to get the strong scent of cigarette smoke when Grandma would visit. Toward the end of my mom’s human life we smelled it a lot. My mother expressed fearing Grandma was coming to escort her into death (even though she was also ready to go).

Death is such a huge transformation from the human perspective because we’ve lost our memory of the connectedness and infinite continuation of soul life. This makes letting go really hard and scary for both the dying and the living.

Electronics may reveal a visit from a loved one. My father has received calls twice on his house phone from his own cell phone. He still has my mother’s cell phone active on his plan. This could very likely be a visit from his wife. I know it is a visit. But usually we doubt because we are conditioned to need more proof externally to tell us what is really occurring.

Dreams may be easier to trust if the soul visits clear and strong but often the dreams don’t come or are strange and muddled. It all depends on the deceased soul’s ability to enter a dream as well as living dreamer’s openness. Both souls still have a relationship ongoing where communicating is a skill to learn.

We are not conditioned in culture to understand the continuation of the soul as a natural process of existence because religious dogma has turned the cycles of nature (nature is spirit) into a mental spiritual belief system. Science as the polar opposite narrow extreme has discredited life beyond the five senses because it cannot be measured empirically.

Truth cannot go away because belief systems try to sway the human mind away from it.

To contact a loved one on the other side you want to train yourself.

The first step is learning how to still the body, detach self from the thoughts and feelings, and begin to go within to develop the intuition and imagination.

This needs to be a practice. Just hoping you suddenly can be skilled at contacting the other side is the same as expecting to lift a fifty pound dumb bell when you have never lifted weights in your life and your arms are weak. Skill is the key, not how evolved or awake you are.

To develop the intuition and imagination it would be a good beginning to meditate for five minutes twice a day and also to spend time taking journeys within. The meditation will develop your ability to detach from thoughts and feelings so you can let go and travel. Taking regular journeys within will build your concentration, focus and imagination. This is how to meet your loved one.

You also need to learn to still the body. This prerequisite may require yoga, stretching or maybe all it takes is setting time aside to do nothing but sit and stare out the window. Don’t do, just be.

Be. Meditate. Take journeys. Be consistent about these three aspects. Practice regularly. It does not need to be hours. Five minutes of meditating. Ten minutes to take a journey. Half hour to sit and be, doing nothing.

Journeying to the other side of the veil has a basic structure to it. First, you relax the body completely by focusing on breath and scanning all your body parts, consciously relaxing each part.

Once relaxed, visualize yourself at the bottom of a staircase and walk up the steps slowly, noticing what the steps to the other side of the veil or upper world look like, feel like, smell like and any other details. Trust what your imagination shows you.

When you arrive at the top you will find yourself in the upper world sanctuary that appears before you. Trust what you see. This is a big aspect to learning how to journey. Trust what you see without question. After you have taken a few minutes to explore your upper world sanctuary, paying close attention to all you see, touch, smell, taste, and feel….call the loved in to enter.

They will appear. If they do not appear, they are resting or busy and the time is not right. If they do appear, allow the connection, dialogue or whatever is meant to happen….happen.

If you are not able to focus enough to journey, work on stilling the body and meditating. You will get there.

After six months of grieving my mother, I came to a deeper acceptance of her death and of my dad’s fate to be left alone. I was ready to journey and begin a regular practice.

In my imagination she shows me an image of her that is easy for me to connect with. Souls will appear how it is best for you to see them.

In my first vision, she let me know she is done with her life review and that she exploring much more of the universe than she ever knew existed. When I asked her about the details of my life she gave me a big message. She said each lifetime is so short in the scope of the vastness of the soul, that it truly does not matter if we get what we want, find success, fail, lose, or never get what we want and suffer as a result. She said that the point of each life is the experience itself and not how this or that it was (good or bad, mistake or success, etc).

Vivian was filled with bliss and joy as she shared this message with me. I felt my mother’s bliss palpably and I was filled with joy too. I received her message on a feeling level that changed me instantly, freeing me of some of my karma and helping me see the fear I was carrying. Powerful!

I share a bit of my own tale to model what this process looks like and know that I am very skilled at connecting with the other side and I have always had a natural inclination that’s made it easier. Don’t compare yourself.

If you practice, you will get more tuned in at the pace that is right for you. I long to be at the level of a practiced medium but it’s not my time for that yet and I trust the timing. The pace is important and your loved ones are available for you no matter what your skill level.

In another vision my mom said she has chosen to become a spirit guide. She is very busy learning and exploring as a result and she shared that we need to call to her if we want a visit from her. Mom said she will visit whenever we call. I was comforted and I felt immense happiness for her liberation.

I make journeying to visit my mom a regular ending to my yoga/mediation practice most mornings now. Repetition increases lucidity and strength. I also enjoy getting the tea on what she is up to.

In the last journey we shared almost no words. It was a visually intense and rich experience. My mother opened her mouth and thousands of turquoise butterflies came flying out. I was enthralled and found I could receive the message better through the image than with words.

Don’t want to share any more from my journeys as it is too personal but I want to demonstrate how journeys can shift from day to day. Anything is possible in a journey.

You may meet other loved ones or spirit guides. You may meet yourself on the other side! Remember, time is not linear over there so as we live in the body on earth we also live on the other side. It’s a trip for the logical mind to grasp which is why we need visuals and journeying to truly connect.

Vanquishing doubt and building the skills of trust, body stillness, focused imagination, detachment from the thoughts and feelings is the process. It may also be a process to learn how to play and be the magical child when journeying.

You can connect with your loved ones on the other side of the veil through intention, dedication, and practice if you so desire. It is your birthright.

 

 

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.