Free Flow on Tending the Garden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

True power always comes from deep within.

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

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

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

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

I speak more about balance. What about the inside?

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

New Moon Channeling

Today is the new moon in Cancer (opposing Saturn in Capricorn) and I am compelled to write a blog inspired by the energies. I am going to be playful and ask the new moon in Cancer to speak through me and provide a message and then ask Saturn in Capricorn to provide a message. These words below are channeled….

Cancer New Moon Speak:

Good morning, child. I am here in my newness, my darkness, my beginning…to seed love as unconditional and tender love, love that is full of compassion and understanding, love that knows that humans are fallible and have their shadowed side and are capable of betraying, lying, hating, harming and losing sight of me and of tuning into love and giving love. When a human loses connection to me then they suffer and harm, it’s really that simple. I don’t judge. I don’t take away my love just because a human is mean or vicious or harmful. I love all of my children the same whether they are on one side or the other side of awareness and love. I love those who hate and betray and harm the same as I love those who love, help and benefit the whole of you, the heart of you. When you tap into me you can do the same, you can love everybody the same. Loving does not mean allowing or liking or justifying. You can love while you say, I don’t like what you are doing or how you are behaving. You can love while saying, you are causing harm. You can love yourself too in that way. You can say to yourself, I love me even though I am not doing a good job right now. Love can be there no matter what. I am the love that is there no matter what so when I meet an angry hurt scared human my love connects to them and fills them with medicine. Love is medicine. Maybe the human does not receive my love but if they don’t it does not hurt me because I know their own pain and fear prevents them and it has nothing to do with me. I might retreat from them and focus on where love can be met instead but I will continue to love everyone the same. I have my moods, my cycles. I may reveal more or less, I may express from a quiet and moody place or a tender and open place. I have a strong veil around me, a shell, a protection. Yet this veil is not armor or defensive. It’s just my nature to make sure I can feel safe to express my love and if I cannot feel safe, I still feel my love but will hide it from you. Sometimes I can be defensive and my veil does turn into armor but this only happens if my own wounds make me see you wrongly because you see, my parents in the sky did some really crappy things to me a long time ago and now I suffer from insecurities I am still trying to heal. I heal through you, humans. You heal through me, moon. We heal each other. We get defensive and put on our fighting armor when how we were treated as children rises up in our heart feeling threatened by the others. Don’t you see it? You are all a bunch of scared hurt children when you get defensive and mean or judgmental. I get it because the sky lords have their drama too but I am here to love and not war so I work through my pain by taking good care of myself and I hope you do the same. Take your walks, baths, and find your cozy places to nestle and eat your medicine and find the one person you can open up to and be seen and heard and make art or something beautiful even if it’s just photo you snap in the world. Be at peace with something. We are beings, you and me, of a different kind and yet I am inside of you and you are inside of me. I am all reflection, you see. I am a reminder that we are all connected and part of the grand design, interdependent at all times. Tune into your heart and the hearts of everyone who you like and don’t like and even hate. Not one of you is above the other even if some of you are lovers and others are haters. I know that’s hard for you to grasp but my counterpart Saturn understands the harsh realities of human life best so let him speak now and may you be blessed.

Saturn in Capricorn Speak:

Good morning brave humans. It is brave to be alive in your reality. It is not easy to be alive in your reality. The amount of pressure inside of you is great. The pressure is the way all of the mistreatment you and your bloodlines have faced lives in your body as fear, helplessness, confusion and pain meeting your head’s thinking place that is always strategizing ways to solve and fix and turn what hurts into something grandiose and bad to separate from completely when in reality, it is not so. There is no devil or a hell place where all the bad can be contained as separate from the good. Wouldn’t that be convenient? Your churches and psyches try so hard to contain all of the harm and pain into this one place or being that can represent it all and yet this is causing more suffering and more harm and more pain because it winds up scapegoating types of people and parts of yourself the same. Be careful of your projections, human. You may judge those who seem so different and yet they show you what you have shadowed in your own consciousness deep beneath the surface. You may not overtly try to contain all of the harm into a place like hell with a devil but in your shadowed consciousness you may feel an existential dark abyss that will swallow you whole if you do not do good and work for the light. It’s complicated. Keep fighting for what is loving, just and right so all humans can be treated with equal value and get rid of those parasites feeding off of your vulnerabilities and… just don’t become a zealot with your ideas because you fear what is harmful, wrong, and cruel so deeply that you think you can eliminate harm from the human species once and for all like some utopian place opposite the evil place because….you can’t. Humans are both light and shadow. By light I mean aware, loving, and caring and by shadowed I mean only that you have shadowed the part of you that is naturally unaware and instinctual and like beasts of the earth are. Those connected to earth, the indigenous as you call them, understood this and they did not shadow their animal side. They performed rituals and rites of passage to honor their animal side which prevented too much harm, violence, crime, hatred and lust for power to grow and they allowed for their animal part to mix with their soul part and live in a balanced marriage within and in the tribe, until…they were defeated by the people who came to use abuse them. But these users and abusers are not the devil, they are ignorant and greedy and lost and feel helpless in their shadows. You see, you were meant to fall and lose balance and war and learn and grow from it. Learn that your power is within and learn to come together in a new way and how to love again after pain and unjust defeat. You humans are animal and soul and your modern societies have shadowed and marginalized and oppressed and bullied and abused your animal side so much that you are all sick in the head and causing way too much harm and hurt. The animal is just as spiritual as the soul. The animal is the feminine nature aspect of spirit and the soul is the masculine nature aspect and by masculine and feminine I don’t mean man and woman, I mean what you might label yin and yang or magnetic and electric. There are two polarities to your original natures and they don’t go away even when you flower into the variety of expressions of that. Polarity is the skeleton of your realm. You cannot oppress half of your polarity nature by judging the animal as savage or base or less-than while putting the ethereal infinite soul on a pedestal and trying to turn yourselves into saints and angels made of all softness and light. Light and dark are equal polarities that rely one one another within you, at all times. Darkness is not the shadow. Shadow means what is hidden. Darkness is the soil that nestles the seed and the night that replenishes the day and death that rebirths life and instinct that keeps life growing. Your animal nature is meant to birth into a limited human beast and be part of a creature eating creature interdependent world and to decay and to poo and pee and copulate and feel pleasure and pain and cause blood and crave and lust and feel with instincts that are sacred in the domain of the goddess who has been completely shadowed and turned into the devil in your psyches and this is causing so much war and suffering that even I, Saturn, cannot take it anymore and you know me. I will take away your freedom in service to your freedom. I will force you to face the reality of life that you are both animal and soul and to heal by facing your limitations and ignorance. You are meant to be both animal and soul and to birth and die and to experience all human life has to offer. I hope for your kind to heal and unify and then I can be set free inside. You see, I am suffering too because I am bloated with all of your karma. I hold it all for you until you work it out. So please set me free by listening to mother moon and finding your way back to love soon. Let the animal out of the shadows. Remember your indigenous animal roots connected with Earth and bring back the rituals that expel the energy, cravings and pains from the psyche so that animal part of you feels valued and safe and held in the temple of the soul. I will tell you what to do but only you can do it. I will take away your freedom but only you can set yourself free.

End of channel…

Back to me writing again. That was fun and I wanted to write from a different place this morning, not just explain what the energies mean but engage the energies and speak them into being much like we do in therapy when engaging in parts work or journeying.

Do you channel? I am sure many of you reading this do. Channeling is a natural human ability to bring through the consciousness of other life forms. When you channel, the other life form you connect with mixes with your psyche’s language and consciousness. It is through the imagination that we channel. The imagination is not only “make believe” it also a gateway to translate other energies, life forms and parts of Self in the shadow.

Channeling is a dance between two forces and meant to be taken lightly. Exploring the new age realm of channeling and working with metaphysical energies opens new doors of perception and intuition. Channeling is not meant to be taken as a dogmatic truth or to compete with science and reason. I like to see channeling much like poetry that inspires and awakens an inner sense of wisdom and connection to all of life.

If it feels right take it in and if it does not feel right, toss it out. No big deal.

New Moon Energy Blessings.

 

I Love Saturn

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Telehealth and Pandemic Reflections…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Reflections and 10 Skills for Healing Body Shame

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So it gets complicated…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

Jungian Psychology and Becoming Whole

Carl Jung called it the individuation process. Through the lens of shamanism it is called soul integration. I see Jungian psychology as the western european reinterpretation of the indigenous practice of soul retrieval, where the healer of the tribe would travel into non-physical dimensions (the names of these dimensions vary from tribe to tribe) of the sick person, retrieve fragmented soul parts that fled during trauma, and return these parts to the individual in present time, making them more whole.

In Jungian psychology, the unconscious would be the name of this other, non-physical dimension. The shaman would be the psychotherapist. The soul parts would be aspects of the Self tossed into the shadow, as well as archetypes living in the collective unconscious. Bringing these aspects of self and archetypes to conscious awareness through active imagination, dream interpretation, creative expression, etc, would be akin to the shaman retrieving the soul parts for the individual and breathing them back into the heart through the process of spiritual journeying and ceremony.

This correlation is my humble opinion. I have not studied up on this correlation and perhaps much has already been written. I am reflecting upon my personal thoughts from my own personal experience. I have had soul parts retrieved by a shaman and I immersed in the shamanistic healing lens for a number of years in the early 2000’s. I retrieved my own soul parts after a time as I desired to do the work on myself, straying from the tradtional path.

I need to mention that this was a western civilization’s appropriated version of shamanism I immersed in. Although this appropriation was rooted in loving intention to bring authentic healing to others, I acknowledge it is far different than if I were to study with an indigenous tribe and experience the true original essence of the practice…and even then, I would still be a westerner entering a culture not my own.

Jung used the metaphor of shadow and light to refer to the conscious and unconscious and turned the spiritual concept of soul into the psychological concept of the Self. Jung translated the earth-based spiritual into the psychological in a society that devalued and oppressed the indigenous soul, pushing this aspect of our human nature into the shadow (this is the Tricker archetype of which I will save for another blog) in favor of western, masculine dominant civilization (again, another blog for this mammoth topic). Although he had his own battles with devaluing the feminine (his own shadow), I am thankful for his work, his words, and his translation that allowed the earth-based feminine wisdom to survive in a cloaked western masculine form. Again, this is all my humble opinion and I too, have my shadow.

The soul journey is filled with the light-experiences of security, pleasure, belonging, connection, health and well-being. The soul journey is also filled with the shadow-experiences of insecurity, pain, loneliness, illness, abuse, loss and separation. We are each unique and yet we share in common the nature of the soul journey which is filled with shadow and light experiences.

The ratio of shadow to light experience is different for everyone. Why? I find it valuable to not ask why. Asking why puts a narrative around the happening that produces suffering that stems from comparing. Sure, you can say it is karma, or law of attraction…but what if you didn’t make a reason that put control in the individual for causing the ratio? What if nature simply produces a variety at random?

What if karma is not about how much pain we endure but more about how we handle it? What if the more we learn to handle shadow experiences with self-awareness, love, and acceptance the less we create some shadow experiences that stem from self creation (such as relationship conflict and self-sabotage)…yet the more we are able to metabolize and grow from shadow experiences that we do not cause (loss, abuse, oppression, death)?  Questions to think about (and again, another blog topic). Back to shadow and light reflection…

We also contain light and shadow aspects within the Self. The light is what we are aware of and the shadow is what we are not aware of. The light is the conscious self, or ego. The shadow is the unconscious, which has a personal and collective level. Think of it like an iceberg. The ego is the small tip of the iceberg rising out of the sea. The personal unconscious is the large expanse of the iceberg submerged under water and the collective unconscious is the depth of the sea itself.

What we (and others) approve of about the self is expressed as our conscious self or ego. What we are ashamed of and judge about the self hides in the shadow of the personal unconscious. Painful feelings, traumatic experiences, and the wounds we carry may also get relegated into the personal shadow. Some of us have consciously over-identified with our wounds, traumatic events, low self-esteem and self-worth, causing a healthy and positive sense of self to live in the personal shadow. It’s different for everybody.

When the self becomes too divided, suffering results in a variety of ways. The ego projects onto others what hides in the shadow. This happens in personal relationships and collectively. When we do not own our own shadow material, we blame others for in relationship. Our inner division is reflected in relationship division. Feelings stemming from unprocessed complex trauma, abuse, or hurt relegated into the shadow can morph into physical and mental illness. Addiction may result as a way to continue avoiding the painful feelings and wounds living in the unconscious. We may relegate our spiritual connection or soul-self into the shadow and on an ego level, always find the need to compete and prove ourselves due to being so disconnected from essence. 

The collective shadow contains who we are systemically. All of us are deeply connected to our family system. We inherit multi-generational wounds, character traits and behavioral patterns through the bloodline from our ancestors and immediate family that live in the collective shadow and may be unconsciously creating chronic issues in our lives. For instance, A great great great grandmother’s anger from being oppressed and abused may be passed down from generation to generation as a character trait of being easily enraged for the smallest of reasons. This rage may cause conflict and reoccurring issues in each new woman born into the bloodline. 

The instinctual human drives we all share in common as a human species also live in the collective unconscious and are called, archetypes. These collective instincts are invisible and so the archetype is like a pictorial costume the instinct wears so that the conscious self can be aware of it.  The drive to live, love, belong, sexually connect, succeed, make meaning, spiritually commune, create, mother, father, etc…are the archetypal instincts. For instance, if you suddenly feel a strong urge to have a baby, it is the mother archetype connecting to your conscious self, asking for embodiment. If you suddenly know you must become a healer, it is the healer archetype connecting to your conscious self.

If an archetype over-powers, it may cause suffering, illness, and imbalance. A good example of this would be an insecure and outcasted young man who suddenly becomes driven by the spiritual teacher (hierophant) archetype. If he finds a sense of empowerment from this archetype he may lose himself in it and become evangelistic and dogmatic as he mistakes connection with power when developing a following of students.

An archetype may also be stunted. For instance, if the artist archetype connects to the ego of a woman who suddenly feels the need to create, but she doesn’t express it due to being too busy with work, she may turn toward excess eating or drinking to release the pressure of the artist archetype building up in her belly as creative fire and passion. 

The archetypes are mysterious. They tend to wake up and connect to our conscious self of their own accord, having their own consciousness. Jung tended to see them as sentient unconscious forces that possess the ego. The god and goddess pantheons may be seen as archetypes. They can make us feel more connected, inspired, alive, and whole, when we embrace them in a balanced way. For instance, if an isolated and lonely young woman suddenly connects with Venus, the archetype of feminine love, she may experience her female sensuality and open her heart, attracting in a romantic partner.

One of my teachers warned us about the archetypes, due to their nature being collective, they are impersonal and do not care for our personal lives. Hence, we have to learn how to say no to them sometimes, if it isn’t in our best interest to work with them. For instance, the warrior archetype may connect to the ego of a woman who is always fighting, when she needs to find more softness and love in her life. In this case, it would be best for her to not give in to the sudden desires to fight in certain situations.

I am only touching upon this topic and feel this blog is already growing too long. I would like to wrap it up with a few words about the healing process…

Transformative healing naturally happens when we illuminate unconscious shadow aspects with conscious awareness by giving acknowledgment, honor, and expression to these parts. The healing for the conscious self is through gaining awareness, understanding, and expressing what is in the personal shadow. The healing for the unconscious is when we give conscious embodiment to the archetypes through creative expression, ritual and ceremony.

When the unconscious and conscious find one another through these means, the healing takes place of its own accord. I can say from personal experience, when I become aware of what is in my shadow, I gain a sense of humor about it and it doesn’t seem like a big deal after I express the initial shame, embarrassment, or fear that was keeping the deeper feeling or aspects of Self in the shadow. I have also experienced more wholeness and fulfillment by allowing certain archetypes to have creative expression in my daily life. 

I find it very useful to allow the ego to feel all the uncomfortable feelings (shame, sorrow, anger, humiliation, etc) with radical acceptance in order to do this integration work. When all the parts of self begin to connect, being who we are feels right and flows, no matter what the experience, be it shadow or light. 

Integration of the shadow and light allows the Self to become more whole and balanced. In essence, we piece ourselves back together with wisdom, love and creativity, turning suffering into gold. Narrating the “story of me” is meant to be a creative process and determines our internal experience. Like the clam turning mud into a pearl, the pain we have been through may become the fodder for transformation and healing.