Category Archives: body mind emotion

Vulnerability is Strength

transfiguration-tatiana-kiselyovaTrue strength is found in our vulnerability.

Of course, that’s hard to imagine when you’ve been hurt by those closest to you or made to believe power over others is the only way to gain traction in this world. When we’ve been raised in chaos, neglect or abuse, it’s most certainly impossible to imagine being vulnerable to anyone.

How do you acheive vulnerability when your family pattern growing up had been to divulge your secrets just to win an argument when they got mad at you?  What would it look like to be vulnerable as an adult when your childhood history had been a beating if you were truthful? Why bother being vulnerable, because you tried that as a child and still your needs were not met.

Instead, you entered the adult world through a different way of being. You grabbed your weapon of  anger, arrogance, addictions, compulsions, aggression, overachieving, under functioning, numbing out, depression, or anxiety. You clung to your strategy in whatever circumstance those defenses needed to work for you. You fought like hell to hold your ground. And now you’re tired. Your weapon of choice is battered. You’re exhausted. There must be a better way.

There is and it starts with self compassion. Try this little exercise I use with my clients: Write down the three worst things you tell yourself about yourself. Write them in “I am” statements. Say them aloud. Now go up to someone you respect and turn those three statements into “You are” sentences and say them to that person. Can’t? Of course not. You would never be that mean to someone else. So why are we so mean to ourselves? If we’re not careful our inner dialogue can be horrific and not fit for human ears. It guts us of any self esteem and tramples our sense of identity.

It takes courage to make a change toward self compassion and this is the root of vulnerability. This is where your strength lies – in opening to yourself. In treating yourself with love and tenderness. No one will ever treat you better than you will treat yourself. No one is treating you any better than you are treating yourself at this point in time. So, how are you being treated? How are you treating yourself?

Tara Brach writes in her book True Refuge: What if we could recognize our faults and look to see what is beyond them? What if we could see, with great tenderness, the painful unmet needs that have shaped our behaviors? For many of us, this process is the work of a lifetime, one that requires the active support of loved ones, therapists, spiritual teachers or healers. Yet it begins the moment that we are willing to look at ourselves through the eyes of compassion.

Opening our hearts to ourselves means we can drop our weapons. We can stop defending the invisible beast of self loathing. No battle is won until we can claim peace. Peace cannot be experienced until we surrender ourselves to the grace of self compassion.

Art- Transfiguration – Tatiana-Kiselyova

Leaning into is the Only Way Out

    vortice As long as we’re in this world, we can’t escape its hard knocks. Many problems are created by our own bad choices and negative thoughts. Some struggles are out of our control. While other life issues develop because of poor attachment to our original caretakers and as a result we don’t know how to form healthy adult relationships. A number of difficulties are a result of traumas. Some people develop a lack of trust in their ideas, talents or sexuality because others mocked or shamed them.

Working through this pain while staying connected to our humanity helps our Soul become stronger and more resilient. When we choose growth over pathology, acceptance over denial, healing over victimhood, we’re embracing our authenticity. When we honor our unique struggles verses denying we have any, we’re in touch with our Sacred Self.

Connecting to that sacredness is about leaning into the pain we feel and working through the puzzle of healing. When we avoid our inner turmoil by blaming others, self medicating or repeating old patterns that are harmful, we’re riding a whirlpool of chaos. The only way out is to confront our suffering. This way forces outside of ourselves no longer control us. Stepping out of the vortex puts us into the eye of the storm, which is where calm resides.

When we grow psychologically, we stretch — sometimes it’s messy, always uncomfortable. At times it’s downright painful. Like the twisting of gold wire to make jewelry, we’re applying pressure to achieve new form. The wire becomes stronger as it bends to hold the beautiful gemstone. It doesn’t change what it is, only manifests into something greater than its initial form.

Reclaim all that is within you.

Art-Deborah Koff-Chapin

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

Flying Home…again

Pigeon Columbidae Bird Flying in Cloud Sky

In my constant search to find the meaningful connection between the benign and the spiritual, it occurred to me we’re all like pigeons (stay with me, I promise there’s a point to this). Here’s how this conclusion came to be:

Each day, while I’m working to stay present to my clients’ stories, I’m also working really hard to ignore this flock of pigeons that inhabit the neighboring rooftop. They cluck, they coo, they peck, they copulate, sometimes they even fly at my window. I’ve been told they’ve increased their population over the years, staying put and not flying beyond the roofs and gutters. This makes them easy prey. Recently, a hawk caught one of the pigeons. I heard a thump, a squawk, then saw a stream of grey feathers trickle between the buildings. It was like watching a disturbing cartoon.

As their quirky bird shadows invade my office and challenge my attention span, brave souls sit with me and share their deepest insights, feelings and fears.  My client’s bring vulnerability and pain to the sacred space I hope I’ve created for them. Each and every one of them is a soul struggling along life’s tumultuous journey. Many want reclamation of Self, inner peace, or understanding of the challenges they face. Others fight desperately to stay put, because they can’t  envision change and only want some temporary relief. Some come for existential reasons, others to battle the daemons left by trauma. Some are willing to make the journey, others refuse the call. The one thing they all have in common – as is the case with everyone – they’re seeking a way back to their center.

Life has a funny way of pushing us away from ourself in an effort to bring us back home, doesn’t it?

Journey in itself connotes forward movement and that means obstacles along the way, since no path is without its potholes or fallen trees.  In Joseph Campbell’s brilliant classic, The Hero with  A Thousand Faces,  the voyage of humanity is mapped out through the use of myth, dream and archetypes. In the beginning of everyone’s psychological adventure, we’re thrust into a departure, which repeats itself with each life experience. This call for departure incites fear of the unknown. We fight like hell against leaving.  We want to stay put, to cling to the familiar, to not look beyond the rooftop where we were born.

Yet, when we stay, we stagnate. We become psychologically (and sometimes physically) obese. We cling to illusions of self-importance. We use ego defenses, harmful behaviors or judgment to convince ourselves we’re right. Campbell writes:

Often in actual life, and not infrequently in the myths and popular tales, we encounter the dull case of the call unanswered: for it is always possible to run the ear to other interests. Refusal of the summons converts the adventure into its negative. Walled in boredom, hard work, or “culture,” the subject loses the power of significant affirmative action and becomes a victim to be saved.

      Despite our best efforts to resist this calling, life forces beyond our control will thrust us out of our comfort zone. In most cases, those very real energies show up as depression and anxiety. These are major indicators that something isn’t flowing, that we’ve resisted a call. If this pain grows big enough, we seek aid to help make it across what Campbell calls the first threshold. When we do this, we can then open up to new possibilities and integrate deeper meaning into our lives.

 “…some chance word, the smell of a landscape, the taste of a cup of tea, or the glance of an eye may touch a magic spring, and then dangerous messengers begin to appear in the brain. These are dangerous because they threaten the fabric of the security into which we have built ourselves and our family. But they are fiendishly fascinating too, for they carry keys that open the whole realm of the desired and feared adventure of the discovery of self.”

So many of us are like those fat pigeons outside of my office. We don’t want to fly great distances, we don’t think about what lies beyond our own rooftop, nor do we want to. We may not be content, since our stagnation makes us weak and annoyed, yet we know this rooftop.

There’s another type of pigeon, though. One that can look beyond its comfort zone and embrace what’s out there. It knows where it’s going because it’s flown great distances before. This type begins to fly short distances when it’s young, yet it always returns since it’s deeply connected to home. Over time, it gains strength and makes longer flights. It understands how to manage turmoil, since when in flight it reaches its legs back and hold its tail feathers to keep from fatiguing. This pigeon has the same ancestor as “old fatty” yet operates differently. The homing pigeon can push its way through high winds and bad weather. It brings back messages from far away places. It returns home with the wisdom it experienced and then it rests until next time.

Yes, we’re like pigeons. All of us. We can choose to exercise our wings and make strides. We can develop the strength to manage in times of trials. We can learn to fly out of our comfort zone – or not. We can embrace life’s journey or remain dormant and dependent. It’s our choice. Safe travels.

Artwork: Kim Seng

The Spiritual Necessity of Ego

egoblogIn any spiritual community the discussion of ego regularly comes up. The common message – whether spoken or unspoken – is that the more spiritual you are, the more egoless you become. I think the exact opposite occurs. In my observation, the more spiritual involvement someone has, the more ego seems to be involved. Maybe this is just the converse elements of the human condition working themselves out, like Yin and Yang or Anima and Animus but spirituality and ego work in opposing ways that seem to fuel each other. This can be for good or bad.

It takes ego to step into a pulpit. It takes ego to get on television with your latest insights, write a book, lead meditation groups, standup at a Spiritualist retreat and do readings, trust in your visualizations and yes (gulp!), to write a blog. It takes a sense of purpose to practice spirituality and the only way we’re able to obtain this purpose is through the management of our ego.

Ego is necessary to the human condition. Ego is how we choose to see ourselves. It’s needed to operate in our world. We need our egos to maintain balance and identity. When we make choices about who we are and what we need and want, we’re making value statements. These values are what form our unique brand of spirituality. David Richo in his book HOW TO BE AN ADULT states:

A psychologically and spiritually conscious person acts from a consistent – though always evolving – sense of values. To value is to esteem the worth of something, to declare that it has meaning for us (pg. 48).

Those on a spiritual journey, no matter what their road looks like, are seeking meaning in their lives. They’re applying their identities to this process and that takes the use of our egos.

No great spiritual leader who lived on this earth was without ego. Jesus certainly had one. So did Gandhi and Buddha. In fact, the whole concept of Buddhism is about managing ego-mind to obtain connection with our inner light. In the modern-day example of a man of spirit who stayed consistent with his values, Nelson Mandala could not have achieved what he did without ego.

It’s what we do or don’t do with ego that’s important. An unhealthy ego, or what Ricco calls neurotic ego, keeps us locked in dark places. It keeps us from working through old hurts, it develops a false sense of Self because we fear going inward, it keeps us looking for the stimulation of addictions because we’ve wandered too far from our spirit, it keeps us in the victim/perpetrator/rescuer mode of abuse. When we work solely from ego, we’re unbalanced. We have no psychological boundaries and cannot honor others’. Just think of spiritual leaders who have used their positions to molest or steal.

When we’re attracted to the “spiritual limelight” because ego wants the hit, we’re not seeking truth we’re seeking an adrenaline rush to keep our false self going. We’re not seeking the light, but choosing to manifest our darker places. As Ricco says:

     Psychological and spiritual work – both necessary for full human realization – are meant to proceed both separately and simultaneously as life unfolds. Effective psychotherapy attends to both ego and Self and is the primary form of help in the process of change and transformation.

     Psychological work is the linear chronology leading us from problem to solution, from inadequacy to competence, from dysfunction to high level functioning.

     Spiritual work is a journey from the compelling attachments of the neurotic ego to Here-and-Now centered Self (pg. 105).

 I recently listened to a modern-day self-help leader state that she has managed to work herself out of her ego. Perhaps how she manages her ego is different these days, but it’s exactly her ego that allowed her to perform that interview – and that’s okay.  It’s when spiritual leaders and practitioners deny their ego that the temptation to deny their humanity gets out of whack. Then they lapse toward self-aggrandizement and judgment. Talk about the neurotic self!

Like the feminine Yin and the masculine Yang that balance the Self in active and passive energies, so ego and spirituality force us to work that fine tee-totter effect of becoming. The recognition of our very human ego, is what keeps us closer to our spirituality. When we embrace our limitations, then we can find our infinite potency. ~ Namaste~

Body: Breaking the Shame Cycle through the Lower Chakras

images4EQRC8AAIn the Tantric form of Yoga, the body is seen as the highest instrument to express spiritual awareness and consciousness. For thousands of years, yogis have understood how to use the physical to connect to the spiritual. They apply movement, chakra energy and sound. The deeper the engagement with body, the deeper the union with Spirit.

In my work with women, the disconnect between body and soul is heart breaking. This detachment, more often than not, starts because of trauma. It then manifests into eating disorders, dissociation, self-harm, and negative body image which continues the cycle. Even traumas that aren’t as overt as rape or molestation have a huge affect on a human being. The signals that a woman’s body doesn’t meet expected standards wears on the psyche and cultivates shame. These messages come from culture, but they also come from home – which is a more profound influence. Family members who struggle with their own denied issues slap their burdens on their children and carry it forward for generations.

Too many women consider their bodies an albatross they’re forced to bear. They see only fractured body pieces and rate them based on how they compare to other women’s parts. Who can blame them? It’s human to want acceptance. We survive through groups. When we’re young and scared, we’ll do anything to belong.

Young women who don’t see themselves as mature enough to set boundaries with older men are easy prey. They’re made to doubt their discomfort level when men leer, make suggestive comments or violate their space. They’re told this is a compliment, not a threat. Drugging women to use their bodies to get off has become, as one twenty-year-old put it, “part of what my generation has to deal with.” When they’ve been knocked out by a roofie and wake up hours later, they usually fear the social repercussions so much that they don’t report the assault. Eventually, this trauma manifests into PTSD and incapacitates them.

The cruel ways people have treated others over sex is part of the dark shadow of human history. It doesn’t only apply to women, however, statistically and traditionally women (and young girls) have experienced a higher percentage of sexual trauma. As long as cultures continue seeing through the lens of a dominant/submissive gender, this abusive entitlement will continue. These scars run deep and leave a shadow not just on a person but on a whole society.

In healing emotional and physical traumas, it’s important to consider how our etheric body energy has also been affected. Trauma does not just affect memory. Our chakras have also been altered. With sexual trauma, our first two chakras, the root and sacral chakras, have suffered the biggest blows. The root chakra manages the energy of physical-care, grounding and survival. The sacral chakra energy reflects issues of self-worth, how we see ourselves in relationships and how we engage sexually. When someone has suffered physical and sexual violations that affect our first chakra, they’ve also been emotionally molested which alters flow of the second chakra.

Chakra flow damage comes from either restricted flow or tears that create excessive flow. Root chakras that are torn open tend to cause problems in the area of excess such as binging, hoarding, or over-spending. If the first chakra has been restricted, those behaviors show up as restriction of food, money, possessions, high anxiety. Both affect the way we’re able to care physically for our Self. Sacral chakra excess shows itself in codependency, no emotional or sexual boundaries. Sacral chakra restriction shows itself as fear of intimacy, rigid boundaries, sexual anorexia or asexuality.

Many times, when one chakra has been damaged, another chakra will overcompensate. It’s not uncommon for survivors of childhood sexual abuse to develop psychic abilities because – when the orange chakra is torn – the third eye tends to open wider. When the root chakra is closed, our solar plexus or crown chakra can go into overdrive.

Reiki and re-connective work are some ways to help the etheric healing process. Yoga with an experienced practitioner can release the emotional pain that our bodies absorb. Regular sessions with a licensed therapist who understands trauma releases emotional pain. It’s a real benefit if a therapist also does some of the physical processing. If a therapist is trained in modalities such as EMDR that facilitates neuroplasticity in the brain, trauma can be release. Some grounding techniques used to prepare a client for trauma processing also assist in the healing of disrupted body energy.  The deeper a person goes into the physical healing process as they heal emotionally, the deeper they’ll be able to reconnect to who they are and find the balance between their physical and spiritual Self.

 

Emotions: Mirror, Mirror, go away!

imagesWUOG13IYI lost a dear friend last year. Not to death but to illusion. Her perpetual absence has me mourning her. Some days, I wake up and think about what we shared over the years and my heart aches. Sometimes, those memories leave me angry. Always, I doubt myself and wonder if I had only done or said something differently, would she have reacted the way she did? I send loving energy her way and imagine her calling me. I think of calling her and saying, “okay this is ridiculous, life’s too short not to talk this out!”. Then I remember her last words to me – not spoken, but written in an angry email that wiped out six years of friendship – and I can still feel the seething quality to the words. So, I keep from making the call.

“Who says that to someone?,” another friend says to me. She gives me her sage-like glance, “you know when someone calls a person those things, it’s because it’s a problem they can’t deal with within themselves, right?”

I know. Lordy, do I know. I’m a therapist, after all. I talk about ego defenses and shadow sides all day long. Yet, somehow, when the table’s turned and I’m on the receiving end of someone else’s disowned stuff, it hurts. It hurts because, the truth is, my friend was right. I am those things at times. I’m those things enough that I can’t write down what she accused me of being. I also know that it’s my stuff – in all its uneasiness and embarrassment – that shrieks back at her. It stands formidable like the wicked witch’s mirror reflecting the wrinkles and blemishes she’d rather kill for than acknowledge.

Our struggle with the personal shame of disowned feelings is never more apparent than within our interactions with others. Our psyches are drawn to those who echo our perspectives. The traits we admire in others, are the traits we possess in ourselves. The nuances of our mindset and the way we feel about ourselves is always reflected in the people we choose to be around. We manifest our private circles this way.

Inconveniently, we’re also drawn to those who possess the darker, less examined aspects of our Self, and this can sometimes be the same person whom we think hung the moon. Insecurity, selfishness, fear, manipulation, self-loathing, uncertainty all attract like. We may think we’re attracted to powerful people because they’re “fabulous” and we feel special around them, yet the shadow side of powerful people is a fear of powerlessness. The darker the shadow, the more troubled the relationship. The addict is drawn to the codependent. The narcissist to the anti-social. The unconscious aspects of Self work in mysterious, sometimes contradictory ways. As we attract the familiar, we are unknowingly disowning the negative traits and placing them at the feet of the other.

In his classic work, Love and Will, Rollo May argues that love and will are the conjunctive process of being. Combing love and will is a reaching out to influence others; molding, forming, creating the consciousness of the person we love. This is only possible when we’re open to the influences of the other. Love must first follow. Because without love, will becomes a form of manipulation:

The interrelation of love and will is shown, furthermore, by the fact that each loses its efficacy when it is not kept in right relation to the other; each can block the other. Will can block love. The overemphasis on will, which blocks love, leads sooner or later to a reaction to the opposite error, love which blocks will. (pg. 276)

If we’re willing to look in the mirror, to see ourselves without the illusion of what we want to present to the world, then we can accept the wrinkles. We can also see the spark in our eye, the great smile on our face and the smoothness beneath our aging. We can embrace all parts of our Self no matter the discomfort. We can – at the very least – be open to the possibility of growth.

Our higher Self knows instinctively that having to face our issues regularly is the only way to resolve them. Our ego – what we prefer to see in the mirror – rejects all that’s unattractive. That unattractiveness may come in the form of another person who’s holding up the mirror to us. Sometimes we reject the whole person no matter how much love we have for them, because our will not to see is stronger than the engagement of acceptance.

Will blocks love when we’re not feeling complete. Fixations on another’s flaws are those infantile aspects of Self. When we decline to acknowledge them, we don’t have to take responsibility for them. If we can allow ourselves to be sidetracked by the ineptitude of another, we can delay the journey that may take us deeper into our own healing. May says we can’t change unless we’re willing to open to the influence of the other. In this case, it’s looking deeply into the mirror then asking, “What in this mirror drives me to want to kill?”.

Emotion: Reconnection to Feelings

136

Embracing your feelings and treating them with loving kindness is the first step on the journey toward psychological and spiritual wholeness. When you use your feelings effectively, they work like a compass, directing you where you need to go. You tap into your navigation system and this allows you to manage your life. Yet, for some of us, that compass appears short-circuited. The needle feels stuck in one direction even though you know you need to head in another. For others, the needle seems out-of-order, unable to pick up any polar energy that could point you to a place other than where you currently are. When your directional process isn’t working, it feels frustrating and overwhelming.

The main reason we become disconnected from our feelings is because of fear. Some people have been trained to shut their feelings down because they’ve been hurt or traumatized in childhood. They associate love and connection with pain. Others may have been mocked and demeaned – this particularly happens with boys – because they expressed their feelings and were told they were weak. We can dissociate from our feelings for less traumatic reasons, too. When we spend much of our lives attempting to please others, we’re not self-focused enough to know our own needs. Another way we sever our connection to true feelings is when we work really hard to cultivate an image and deny our authenticity. Regardless of how it happened, if we’re cut off from our feelings, we’ve cut ourselves off from our humanity. This is how anxiety and depression start.

In his book, How to Be an Adult, David Richo calls this state of disconnection neurotic fear. Neuroses is a psychological term that goes back to Freud. It’s an overarching description that basically means uncertainty in our sense of Self. Richo states that this neurotic fear is an indicator that we have not maturely integrated all aspects of who we are. “Fear is the opposite of love,” he writes, “because it is totally conditional. It keeps us out of the water; it excludes. Love is all-inclusive. To say that love casts out fear is to say that unconditional and conscious integration has triumphed over ignorance and inhibition.”

The basis of addiction and other destructive behavior comes from a fear of feelings. People who have suffered trauma have a hard time connecting love with peace. They misconstrue the ferocity of their experiences for feelings. They become numb on one hand, yet seeking intensity through drugs, sex, dangerous experiences, abusive relationships on the other hand. Intensity is a high. It’s an adrenaline rush. It’s not feeling.

Feelings are so much more. They’re deeper, yet more subtle. They’re like colors. They’re the energy of warmth, pulsation, friction and calm. We must allow ourselves the experience all of these colors and energies in order to be fully alive and integrated with Self. If we deny ourselves the so-called uncomfortable sensations of sadness, loss or anger, we’re also leaving out happiness, joy, and peace. Feelings are a package deal.

It’s important to begin a dialogue with our feelings. Listening deeply and embracing our own truth is the most freeing experience we can have. Within the complexity of our feelings is great splendor. It’s the Yellow Brick Road, the Hero’s Journey of life. We may not know exactly where we’re going, but we need to trust that the journey will get us there if we just put one foot in front of the other. Journaling, the use of art, talking it out or just sitting and allowing the sensation of the feeling to run through us are several ways to process these feelings. Combining all of these techniques to reconnect are the best ways. Some people are more tactile and need to process physically (dance, exercise, walks in the woods). Some need to use image (finger painting or other creative endeavors), some need to verbalize (talking it out with friends or therapists) and some need to understand what they are feeling on an intuitive level before they can share (journaling, reading self-help books or art).

Like energy, feelings need to move. Even to sit in stillness and allow the sensation of the feeling to work through our bodies and to determine where we feel this sensation, is movement. Some fear if they do this they’ll explode. That’s not the case. You can only “explode” when pressure is applied. And when we stuff feelings down into a proverbial sack by ignoring them, we’re creating pressure for ourselves that will generate depression or anxiety. Finding the best way for you to flow, for you to identify and feel the sensations of what you’re feeling, will help you reintegrate and reclaim the sacredness that is your Self. ~ Cheryl Lewallen, M.Ed, LPC

Artwork by Deborah Koff-Chapin

Creativity: the Essence of our Soul

birds-in-a-heart-tree

Creativity is the ability to be authentic through intentional output. All spirits are creative. Just watch children at play. They indulge in their imagination and are happiest when they’re doing it. Creativity is the engine that drives us. It’s the soul of universal power. The universe itself was not devised through molecules and atoms but a magnificent process that goes beyond anything we can imagine in our human form. 

Allowing ourselves to be Creative is allowing the engagement in a process that leads us to our Soul. Through creating, we’re in constant flux between the deepest aspects of Self as we negotiate and understand the reality of our outside world. As Rollo May states in his book, The Courage to Create, the creative process is “the act of actualizing”. Purposeful engagement with what we’re doing gives us this connection. Losing ourselves in the process is the deeper engagement with our Soul. There we feel joy.

We think of Creativity only as projects, but it’s so much more. It shows itself even in the more mundane parts of our lives. Creativity is manifestation and we manifest everything. It’s our creative process that shapes how we live. When we make choices and follow through, we’re participating in a creative process. When we speak, we manifest. When we choose to act – or not act – we’re manifesting the conditions of our world. Think about it. When we talk negatively about people, we get similar treatment in return. When we decide to shut people out of our lives, we eventually manifest isolation for ourselves. On the flip side, when we send out loving kindness, we get loving kindness in return.

Creativity requires being in the moment, like getting up and dancing because our heart fills with a need to express itself. To run, jump, crack a joke, laugh, be with friends. Presence is the touchstone of Creativity and this is the beginning of the path back toward your Higher Self. It’s also the sharing our Higher Self with others.

Those who trust their Creativity reach deeply into themselves and allow an internal dialogue to occur. They may not understand the outcome but they accept the journey. They enter into the engagement like a traveler enters into a new country, with humble acceptance and a willingness to engage just for the sake of expanding their experiences. When we expand our experiences we feel an intensity of emotion and a heightened vitality. We feel alive and connected in new ways. We feel connection with our Soul.