Monthly Archives: June 2014

Emotion & the Sacral Chakra

Celtic-Compass_art

Transformation. The word strikes fear in the boldest of souls. To transform means to willingly stride into the unknown.

The Sacral Chakra is the seat of transformation. This vigorous, radiant axis represents spiritual and emotional growth. Change. The fire element of this chakra converts matter into form, sand to glass, wood to ashes. Immaturity to maturity. While the brilliant yellow of this chakra acts as a driver for forward movement, it also steers us to places where we feel exposed. Just like the snake that sheds its scales to make way for a larger self, we’re left vulnerable during the process of expansion.

Transforming enough to heighten our awareness and compassion takes commitment. It takes a willingness to enter the forest of denied emotions and discarded hurts. It takes fortitude to accept responsibility for our actions, to look inward at the issues that kept our defenses insurmountable. It takes quiet bravery, since the only rewards are internal.

A man or woman become fully human only by his or her choices and his or her commitment to them, writes existential therapist Rollo May. People attain worth and dignity by the multitude of decisions they make from day to day.

Moving beyond our current state of pain and discomfort to a place of clarity requires intentional progress. May says, a choice confronts us. Shall we, as we feel our foundations shaking, withdrawal in anxiety and panic?

No. Emotional transformation is just as essential as physical transformation. Someone just forgot to put that into the life manual we were handed at birth. The good news is, transformation also connotes a movement upward. The end result implies full formation and positive results. The prefix “trans” denotes going across, beyond or through. “Trans” is an active, forward, yet impermanent movement that implies willingness. Yet, when combined with the noun “form” (physical appearance, shape or presence), this movement finds a home, a new place to land and new way of becoming. Driving toward our true Self lands us in the middle of greater peace and freedom.

The Power of No

CGJung“No” is probably the most powerful word in our vocabulary. Anyone who’s ever raised a toddler understands how frustrating the word can be. It seems their “no” stage goes on forever and controls everything and everyone around them. It’s challenging, exhausting and can prick some unresolved, primitive conflicts within parents if they’re not conscious about their responses.

That one syllable word coming from the mouths of our sweet, little cherubs who are supposed to love, adore and follow our every command feels disturbing. When a child begins to say “no”, parents may perceive this as a power imbalance and grow threatened. “No” changes everything for those children (and parents) but not in a bad way.  “No” for a toddler means she’s just beginning to understand she has choices over her life. She’s beginning to see she can decide what to wear, when to go potty (and where), what she likes to eat, how she likes to play and with what toys she wants to play with. No says, “backoff, I’ve got this”, even when she doesn’t.

In his psychosocial development model, Erick Erickson, refers to this “terrible twos stage” as the stage of Autonomy verses Shame and Doubt. When a toddler feels she can make choices, she begins to learn what she likes and dislikes. If she doesn’t have the opportunity to explore, she begins to question her preferences. She loses the ability to know what she wants and develops a sense of shame as a result. “No” for her can either hold clout or fear.

Sadly, lots of grownups are terrified to speak this word. Unlike toddlers who have the luxury of exploring their boundaries without too much understanding of their effect on others, grownups have been around the block a few times. “No” for some carries uncomfortable history. It may mean in the past people shunned them when they set boundaries, so they fear rejection. “No” might mean we’re really not sure anyway, so let’s keep things as a maybe. Then “no” carries a sense of  shame and doubt about what we want and who we are. Not being able to say “no” indicates a constant sense of obligation to please others.

To say “no” takes personal power. Personal power means we’re tapped into our internal locus of control – we know where to set limits. We’re able to understand where our emotional and psychological boundaries are and how they might be different from others around us. We have a strong sense of what’s important to us and as a result know what we’re not willing to compromise. We understand how to set those restrictions and aren’t worried that we won’t be liked.

When this inner gauge is broken, “no” is perceived as a dangerous word. That’s because speaking the word states we’ve made a decision that may be separate from what others want. It also states we’re willing to take responsibility for our choices.

Jumping into the world of a solid decision thrusts us out of a state of avoidance. Just like the toddler, we’re saying, “I like this and not that.” It’s a definitive sign that we’ve made a clear choice. Once made, we’re required to follow through. In this way, “no” is the jumping off point to freedom. “No” preserves your own energy and shows people you have self-respect. It preserves identity.

“No” also decreases anxiety. It provides clarity. When people understand where the limits are, everyone can calm down. Setting that boundary not only provides distress tolerance for adults, but it teaches children they’re safe. The toddler who throws a temper tantrum in the store because he wants that toy is also attempting to see just how much he can push people around. When he realizes he doesn’t have full power over a situation, he can sit back and let go of the reins. When “no” is consistent with both firmness and kindness, that child learns that “no” is safe. Even better, he carries that lesson into adulthood where he can set his own limits against people who attempt to push him around. That child will grow up to understand his own inner locus of control.

People who are too involved in fixing people have little personal power. The act of stepping in to rescue is the act of taking choices away from someone else. To step back and say, “No, this is your job to do,” resets the power imbalance. It frees whomever they were controlling to make their own decisions. Each person reclaims their own power.

The flip side of this is “no” can be used to control everything. It can be the fortress we set against the world. When we feel so hapless and insecure that we have to stop everything, we’re not setting limits we’re walling ourselves off.

Sometimes “no” requires explaining. Sometimes not. Yet, the reason for “no” always needs to be understood by the person using the word. When the speaker is clear, the word holds truth. Personal truth is the way to individuation.

 

Mandala Artwork-CG Jung, The Red Book

The Pull Toward our Soul

boatA lodestone is a naturally magnetic mineral. When combined with metal, these two objects are drawn to the magnetic pull of the North Pole. No matter where you are on earth, the needle of a compass will point north, directing you towards your intended destination. To this day, despite our amazing scientific abilities, geologist can’t explain exactly why this connection works. It’s still very much a mystery – an accepted mystery, but a mystery nonetheless.

The same mystery lies deep within us all as we make the journey back to our Soul. Just like the lodestone and metal are attracted to the pull of the North Pole, our spirits have a natural pull to a higher frequency – some deep essence of truth that leads us when we listen to it. Every time we feel there must be something “more” out there for us, when we feel off course, or when something inside just doesn’t feel right, our inner compass is telling us we’ve lost our way.

The draw toward our guiding principles is already in there. Yet, when we continue to repeat old, destructive behaviors, deny our pain or when we don’t take the time to identify what our needs are, we’ve muddled the needle’s direction. When fear overrides any other vision, we can’t see where we should be headed. Our simple, natural compass starts feeling like a complicated GPS system with directions written in another language.

Yet, if we would only step back and let the simplicity of the needle correct itself, we could find the way back home. By purposefully doing less, reclamation can be accomplished. Thomas Moore in his classic, CARE OF THE SOUL,  refers to this paradox of Soul work;

It’s not easy to observe closely, to take the time and to make the subtle moves that allow the soul to reveal itself further. You have to rely on every bit of learning, every scrap of sense, and all kinds of reading, in order to bring the intelligence and imagination to the work. Yet at the same time, this action-through nonaction has to be simple, flexible, and receptive. Intelligence and education bring you to the edge, where your mind and its purposes are empty. 

No matter how each of us defines what and where that spiritual place of origin is – what their truth is – the fact remains, we’re drawn to seek it. We crave the connection to ourselves so deeply that we’ll go to great extents to find it, even outside of ourselves. This leaves us with addictions or giving our power to others whom we feel have the answers. Humans are full of dichotomies. We have everything we need to understand the right path for ourselves and yet we don’t listen. We bend our compass to point away from our magnetic pull because our ego decides we want to go in another direction.

This knowing is not a community knowing, though there’s a component of the collective in it. The knowing of our Soul speaking to us and guiding us toward the things we need to do in order to grow, utilizes what Jung calls the collective unconscious. Symbols, energy, archetypes all connect us to an ethereal family. Like a lost first language, if we listen, it will come back to us. Moore says;

Observance of the soul can be deceptively simple. You take back what has been disowned.

Another way to look at this is, our knowing is our soul. If we turn away from what we know to be true, we’re turning away from the deepest essence of our being; the God-given light in all of us. That is the compass which will guide us in all things and get us through our storms.

Release and Reclaim

We are part of a complex tapestry of energy. Our environment – the soil, the air, fire, water – is energy. Some energy is denser than others. A rock’s energy is denser than the sun’s, however both possess energy.

Scientists measure energy in the form of atoms and molecules. We put names to energy. Yet, we seem to forget that regardless of how we measure it, we’re also connected to energy on a more ethereal level that’s hard, if not impossible, to measure outside of our inner knowing.  While many people grasp that our body is energy – because it’s easily measured through science – our feelings, actions, thoughts and souls are energy, too. When we choose to stay mad, we are choosing to hold onto that negative energy. When we choose to feel love, we are embracing our higher energy frequency.

Depression is an energy that forms from either early traumas or negative thoughts. It creeps into the essence of our bodies. It sometimes lies dormant for years before it can explode, full force, and affect every aspect of us, including our etheric energy field.

Etheric energy must be managed in the same way we manage the healing of more concrete parts of self, like a broken leg. In fact, etheric energy affects our bodies more than we may give it credit. Even animals must manage their etheric energy. Have you ever seen a stressed dog? How about a cat that was not raised in a litter and was thrown out to fend for itself as a kitten? These animals, like us, have to manage their way through the world and this affects how their physical and etheric energy flows.

Amy Weintraub, who has suffered from depression herself, has spent years helping people work through deeply seeded emotional disturbances with yoga. Through the use of mudras and chants along with asanas, she helps clients reestablish functioning in their chakras. In her book, Yoga For Depressions, she writes:

Talk therapy, though a vital component in our individual recovery from depression and other psychological disturbances, also has its limits. If, as most psychologists agree, the seeds for depression are sewn in infancy through patterns of relationship with significant others, prior to acquisition of language, how can we root out the depression solely through language? Recovery from depression must include the body.

Working through the emotional aspects of this trauma is more than talk therapy. We hold traumas in our bodies, even if we have never had a violent hand laid on us. If you were raised with abuse in any of its forms; physical, psychological, emotional, verbal, sexual, financial, neglect, mockery, then your energy has been tampered with. When people block love from you, they block an energy flow in you. If you minimize the abuse or think the abuser is now dead and therefore you no longer have any issues this way, then you’re more closed off from yourself than you think.

There are multiple ways we fracture ourselves. We can separate from our bodies, we can disconnect from our emotions, we can shut down our thinking and even emotionally cut off people we love.  Regaining connection to all dimensions of who we are is the first step toward healing. One of the first and best ways to do this is through your breath and chakras which means bodywork. As Weintraub says:

When you practice Yoga with awareness of the sensations in your body, your thoughts, and your feelings, you will grow in self-awareness. And as you grow in self-awareness, you begin to have glimpses of what it means to feel utterly and wholly connected, how your small self is not separate fro the Absolute, the Self of the universe.

It’s also important to remember, we also hold love, acceptance, and caring in our bodies, too. Reconnecting to the most fundamental aspect of our existence, our body, we can release that which is holding us back and reclaim that which fills us with the Divine.Image