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In the Beginning

27654822_2014192405495186_7944996930931694026_nFor as long as I can remember, I’ve followed the mantra of “just start”.

Start and see what happens.

Begin and then begin again.

Lately the topic of beginnings and endings has come up quite often. Maybe it’s this moving from Winter into Spring. The up and down weather that reminds us that nothing is absolute. I always smile at how we cling to the day-before weather, “but it was so… warm yesterday… or it was just snowing two days ago… and now”. I smile at these conversations around me every single year.

For a long stretch of time it was a tremendous struggle for me to keep starting. It felt like every time I rebuilt a tiny bit of myself or a bit of direction or foundation, it was ripped away again. Taken away by things out of my control most of the time. It was a time of deep pain and teaching, really. I would become so hurt by the breaking down and open again and again until it felt as though there was nothing left. Like a grown up child whose blocks kept getting blown up and torn down by another, except with what felt like greater consequences. “I can’t do it any more”, I remember saying. “I just can’t”. When, really, it was all internal sensation and feelings that I just didn’t want to have any more.

I was a highly creative child. Always making. Writing. Painting. Putting on plays. Always building new things without any thought of the outcome. I was just in the process. In the joy and love of creation.

That creativity was shut down for a long time. Out of fear and out of other parts of life that seemed to be more important or were valued more. I kept shutting off my ways of accessing that realm. No more painting. No more drawing. The last piece to close off was writing. Story telling.

Several years ago, I was frightened and felt the weakest tiny bit of this energy that I had so tightly turned away from appearing. I sat down and wrote a short little piece. Trembling, I shared it. I fell in love with this energy again. It’s like the tiniest spark of it had reappeared and I wanted to keep it safe and sheltered.

I kept being with it in little ways. I started to draw again even though the first time I did, I was terrified. Imagine, being terrified of sitting down to draw. It was as if I didn’t know what to do. The trauma of having everything I created or had the potential to birth constantly taken away was stronger than my ability to create. Yet it kept calling. So, I let it open a little bit and then would retreat with a “that’s enough for now” feeling.

Recently I’ve realized just how much my creative centers of the womb and throat have been injured. Closed off. Wounded. It’s not a coincidence that these areas have been struggling just as I have been struggling with being able to create and allowing myself the freedom to do so as these chakras govern creativity and giving voice. I see now that I limit myself in these areas.

Writing, for example. I can trace the progression of shutting it down. Something I always loved to do became something I cut off, shoving it down and rationalizing and ignoring the pain of doing so. Only there has always been a voice with me about writing a book and that voice has been getting stronger and stronger. It’s a mixture of whatever it is wanting to come out pushing, pushing, pushing itself to come through me and the resistance I put in front of it.

Through the resistance that has grown, I seem to have had a concept appear along the way that I had to know what I was creating at the beginning. As though the entire end result needed to be known beforehand. If I didn’t know then there was no point in starting because what was I starting? Who knows? I had to figure it out because being in the thought pattern of “I don’t know what to do” or “I don’t know how” is enough to stir up moments where I was frozen in past traumas.

That’s not what happens though. If I can move through that fear and freezing, then when I sit down to draw on a blank page, I’m always surprised by what flows through and out. It wasn’t there beforehand. It wasn’t premeditated. It wasn’t created in advance. It is the process of creation that brings it into being. Not the figuring out in my head or the beating myself up for not doing it.

I seemed to have become stuck between fear of doing and fear of not doing. Waiting between both edges for something to shift.

Just start!

Now, the shift that was planted all those years ago with that glowing ember of a first story has taken on more energy. I’ve listened to the internal pushes and screaming from inside of me. In the past few weeks I’ve found a new practice. Every morning now I wake up, sit for a short meditation practices through the chakras, and then write. Stream of consciousness pours out. Sometimes from my dreams the night before sometimes channeled from who knows where. Pure creation. Often, I’m surprised by what appears – I never could have anticipated what was to come.

My stumbling block with starting was that I had to know all possible outcomes. Perhaps to protect myself from feeling hurt or having to know how something will turn out. That I will have an end product – possibly one that I could earn money from. Or, even worse – what if it comes to nothing? What if I do all of this and nothing comes? I don’t know how to write a book. I don’t know what it is. What am I going to write about? What if there’s nothing to share or it’s not good enough or people don’t like it? What if I don’t “have it”? I “shouldn’t” be spending time doing this. It’s not practical. What if, through this, I don’t know where I’ll land? Or if I’ll be able to do it? Or be safe enough to? Supported? Where do I put my feet? Will the ground get taken away again? The creation all falling apart? Crumbling to bits and being knocked down? The writing that I’ve always wanted to do – what if I can’t. That was part of my block too.

I let this dream of writing a book go – into the place where I didn’t believe I could have dreams. That safe compartment where it could be locked away, never tried. Only, it never died. If anything, turning away from creation only caused more chaos and destruction within me. I didn’t know how vital these aspects are to my well being.

I let that voice of “I can’t” run the show. To keep things closed off tightly. Until, only recently, I realized that none of those thoughts are true. They’re a soundtrack that plays out in loops long established to try to protect myself. Somewhere along the way I no longer understood that childhood ability to create for the sake of creation. To simply be creative. To explore those realms of imagination. The realms that haven’t died. They are very much alive, just neglected. How can I expect to access them unless I start?

In this beginning I have found an unexpected excitement. In only a few short weeks of committing to this daily practice, I’ve noticed that the voices trying to tear me down have stopped. There’s nothing for them to attack – because instead of “not doing” and letting them get to me, I’ve started. I’ve completed my practice at the start of the day and have the rest of the day to come back to it, should I choose to. Or not. The fact that it’s already done means those thoughts have nothing to cling to. No way to get in.

Today, in particular, I was struck with the deepest sense of wellness I have experienced. Something from a deep well within me akin to peace. I feel well all over. In every facet of my being. I’m not sure when I’ve felt that way before. I must have and it feels like it’s a new level of healing taking place. A new level of feeling well mentally in particular but also my physical body and energetic body are more clear. In no longer completely denying these crucial aspects of my creative self or clinging to the struggle that denial has fostered, something completely new can appear. Even if I don’t know what it is, I know how it feels. Already this practice has become a vital part of my being.

This writing and creativity is for me, not any of those other things my mind becomes clouded with. It’s part of my path and practice. It’s my medicine. It’s up to me to take my daily dose.

As we move into Spring it is a time of fertility and a time when this energy is ripe with new seeds being sown. It’s a time of new beginnings. A time to just start and not because I know how something will end. Or if it will be destroyed. Or won’t be “good”. Even if it’s all “taken away” by some unknown force, the process of it never can be. The end result will be what it is. The process, however, never has to end. Just like stepping onto my yoga mat every day – this practice is there for me too, no matter what.

Creativity as much as anything else is now seeming to me a process of letting go. Of giving myself over to whatever wants to come through and allowing myself to just start.

To honour those seeds of starting all those years ago and see how, eventually, the season does change. The energy does shift. It’s been up to me to begin over and over and over. Without knowing that I would ever get to this place and now, without knowing where it will take me next.

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Letting Light In

26904400_2008464602734633_855714768363561149_nI remember walking home from teaching one night in Brooklyn and I saw two men working on a car in the dark. They were trying to replace the front tire and one man was holding a lamp so the other could see what he was doing. He looked up, saw me coming and said with a smile, “sometimes it’s hard to be the one who has to hold the light”. My spirit immediately lifted with this interaction.

What he said resonated with me. In my experience, I’ve had a hard time staying “bright” or full when it’s felt like others try to take or snuff out that light within me. It’s taken me until now to realize that it can’t be taken and that any dissonance I feel internally and in life, I create.

And, of course, it was funny because this guy was really just standing there while the other guy was working away at the “hard stuff”. Except both were equally needed in this moment.

I tend towards the “hard” or always have. Toward the “serious”. Even if that means negating the lightness of being that feels so good. When it has come up, I sometimes limit it. It’s uncontrollable and sometimes scary and sometimes I just feel amazingly full and emanating bright energy.

Teaching fills me up in this bright way. Offering Reiki does too.

When I was home recently I started to let some of that “serious” energy go. Not that I have to and not because it’s “bad” but because I’m so well practiced in it, I need more of the other – the “lighter side of life”. I laughed more. I defended less. In this light, I accepted more of who I am. I remembered a teacher who always says that “enlightenment is a process of lightening up – don’t take yourself so seriously”. I reflected on how I tend to get caught up in the “shoulds” of life (the ones I’ve been taught and the belief systems and energy I’ve lived in) and I started to move beyond them. That I don’t need to beat myself up for the path I’m choosing – wondering if it’s the “right” one – instead I can stop seeing it as this serious thing and simply commit. Open the door and see. From this incredible amount of commitment instantly came deep peace. Lightness. Ease.

On or around February 1st we celebrate Imbolc – the midway point between the winter solstice and the spring equinox. The moment where we can see a return to the light. Moving from the darkness and starting to open up to the seeds of creativity and fertility. For me, this also means continuing to not take myself so seriously. To laugh more (even or especially at myself) and to see even those harder aspects of life with the welcoming embrace of light.

Living Beyond the Shoulds

It’s difficult for me to “just” let myself be. Those constant voices pushing me from inside feel as though they never cease. I’m not sure what measurement I expect to match up to because I know there isn’t one.

This past year I have traveled quite a bit which meant not seeing my family as much as I’d like. I really started to feel it and took six weeks to come home.

Home. Is where the heart is?

All I wanted to do was spend time with my family.

How quickly the internal voices came in when I arrived back home. Those voices asking me, “what are you doing with your life?” and pushing and prodding for an answer. Not that this is a bad thing.

The thoughts grew in power, feeding on guilt because I wasn’t “doing” much. I wasn’t working. I started looking for a job and questioning the path I’m on. I gave the idea of a job right now a sideways glance, knowing full well that it wouldn’t “solve” any of this spinning. If anything, it would just be another distraction away from what I want to be doing; how I want to be living right now.

I got distracted with thoughts about money. Housing. Mortgages. Working. Retirement. The energy around me felt quite strong. Not wrong; just not for me right now.

This energy started to make me turn on myself and attack. A theme I’m used to. In the spirit of self-study – I watched. I noticed what happened as I looked at job boards.

Then I finally realized I was doing exactly what I had wanted all along. All I wanted was to spend time with my family and I was. In abundance. And it was wonderful.

The more I realized that the more I let go of the lack (or the belief in what I was lacking and not doing). The more I focused on the moment and what was currently happening. The more I could start to connect even more deeply with love and light to myself and to my family. The more I could let go of that second-guessing worry and fear that I wasn’t doing something I “should” be doing. I felt a deep peace come over me and my heart expanded. I felt love bigger and more potent than any I have felt for a long time. Probably since I was a little kid, exuding love. Love that perhaps I’ve been limiting because it felt like too much to handle.

In my first training, my teacher explained to us the concept of a daily practice or sadhana. The best thing she said for me to hear was for us to get on the mat every day and move. Every time the word “should” came into our heads – “I should do x pose now or next” to not do that.

Years ago, I started incorporating that philosophy into my physical practice every day. Every day not knowing where I’d be going next and discounting the shoulds that came up and instead feeling or following what I needed or what happened spontaneously. What I realize now is that she was offering us a key to being able to work with all the myriad of “shoulds” that appear in a lifetime. To instead trust what is inside and to live authentically, not bound to what others think reality or life is or isn’t.

So, from the outside, taking six weeks to spend with my family may seem a luxury when faced with the modern way of working where family separation is often a key part of making a living. I’ve done that for many years and all the while I had a pulling feeling of sadness and missing. One that I ignored for some time or didn’t understand how to interpret when it would grow to a point where the separation was too hard. I didn’t know how to listen. I was caught up in the shoulds.

Now, I’m learning how to listen beyond the shoulds.

Now I know that home, for me, is where the heart is.

“Perfecting” Shavasana

crossIn the twelve or so years I’ve been practicing yoga I have noticed the shift in importance regarding shavasana. It used to be that a ninety-minute class would have space and time for at least a ten to fifteen-minute period at the end to lay on your back, arms and legs stretched out long on the ground. A time of stillness, rest, a time to absorb the effort and energy of the practice.

A time to practice death.

Corpse pose.

I remember the first time I learned that shavasana was corpse pose. My teacher at the time rarely explained that relationship because it often freaked people out. We humans tend to have a complicated relationship with death.

I’ve noticed how over the years, class length has shortened and, with that shortening, shavasana often becomes two minutes or three. Sometimes five minutes will be spared.

It’s a challenge – or at least it was for me when I first started practicing. To just lay there. My mind would always race around and I can actually remember the energy moving through my field and in my body. The energy prompting so much resistance to laying down. I never knew if I was “doing it right” and wanted to open my eyes and look around the room. What was everyone else doing? Really – I was just supposed to lay here? That’s all?

Later on, as the effort of the physical practice preceding was often difficult for me, I relished getting to that place of shavasana. It was met with an excitement.

Now, as a teacher and as a student, I notice how this important part of the practice is often relegated to the clock and getting the next class in on time. The few minutes that we all now seem to “fit in” really never enough to fully get into the posture.

At a retreat last year I overheard the teacher talking about how there is no perfection of a pose (which I liked). I heard him say to a student, “if you’re going to ‘perfect’ one pose – let it be shavasana”.

I smiled.

The teacher continued, “in the end, it’s the only pose that you’ll be able to do so why not do it well?”.

Death. A moment of dissolution. A moment where form no longer matters and we enter into the formless.

In yoga philosophy the cycle of life and death is often described by the Gods Brahma (as the creator), Vishnu (the sustaining force or preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer). I’ve always imagined these three playing out like the image of a sine wave where the creation starts and then rises up into a pattern for a length of time or effort and then falls back down and finds a completion of some sort only to rise again. It’s not quite so linear as so many things are being born and dying constantly, and yet this is how I understand it.

What I start to notice is where within that cycle I’m most comfortable and where I’m not. I love the creating force. I enjoy the start of things. I can be in the sustaining force for a great length of time (sometimes to my benefit and sometimes to my detriment) whether it’s a project or relationship or an emotion or any aspect of life. The destruction phase is one that I’ve been learning to become more comfortable with. Be it a physical loss, death of a person or being, or the many other deaths we experience in a lifetime. The positive deaths of personal and psychological growth are some aspects of this destruction such as learning that a belief that served you when you were three may no longer be necessary as an adult. The dissolution of a relationship, marriage, a business or completion of a major project are other possibilities (to name a few).

In the past several weeks I’ve noticed myself moving through what has felt like a phase of dissolving. The yoga studio I have been a student at and have taught at for seven years announced that its closing. For me, this is one of the last pieces of a pattern of death that has been happening for some time.

I noticed when I received the news that I immediately thought of all the students I wouldn’t see and wouldn’t get to say goodbye to (I’m away for their last month of business). I felt the emotions of sadness and loss rise up and I actually let them be there. Not long after I had a workshop that was canceled because no one signed up. I immediately felt as though nobody wanted what I had to offer, even though so many people have said the opposite.

It was this dissolving force. For a few days it felt as though I was dissolving in it. This also brought up a significant moment of trauma for me from the past. A moment which led to a direct experience with death.

Yet, the deaths do happen. Constantly. The dissolution can feel (for me) as though there’s nothing to hold onto and so I start to grasp for what I know. Often, that is to look for old beliefs or old memories with similar charges of pain or emotion. The difference in this moment for me was that instead of having those beliefs beat me down or control me, I took a look at them. I sat with them. I felt the pain the thoughts inflicted.

As I noticed the thoughts rise up repeating in a way that felt as though they wanted to skewer my heart, it also felt as though a massive gateway opened in the bottom of my heart. It was wide and deep – like  a great void while also full of vibration. It was as if something in me had physically unlocked and opened. The first day it happened, I closed the door to the gateway. I simply said, “not right now”. The gateway closed and the pain dissipated, as did the thoughts. I found relief. Though I knew that they had only gone temporarily, I felt proud of myself for setting that boundary in the moment. It was too much for me right then.

In the days that followed I felt the sensations rise again and again only more subtly at first and I realized a connection to what I was feeling right now and a significant moment of trauma that was still charged with potent emotion and all of these belief that “nobody wants what I have to offer” which morphed into “I have nothing to offer”. The difference now was that I have so much evidence to the contrary. I could simultaneously hold with compassion the beliefs that were trying to hurt me, and at the same time reveal that they weren’t true.

The sensations rebuilt in intensity across my heart and I noticed that as I gave up my resistance and let myself step into what was happening, the gateway reopened and reappeared. I was afraid to go through it the first time. I didn’t know what would happen on the other side. I feared dissolving. Losing. Falling out of form or being. Only as I kept myself separate and distanced from this fear of going into the gateway, that was exactly what was happening – I was feeling myself dissolve and I was reacting to it instead of being in it. So, as the gateway reappeared I knew this time, I had to go through. And so… I did.

I walked into the dissolution. I walked into the sensations and feelings. And it released a huge energetic block from the past. My heart healed. The gateway closed. It gave way. I gave way. I accepted dissolution much more fully.

Not only could I witness how I managed and held myself through trauma in the past. I could allow this part of me to move through the gateway and into death now. I wasn’t ready before.

And now I’m free of that structure. Free of the form. I moved into formlessness and it was challenging. It felt challenging to be without an anchor and to notice when I searched for them.

To move into formlessness and know I was also safe. Know that I’m not moving into my actual death. While, at the same time, know that there is a major part of me dying and that death is one to celebrate and honour.

I can see now how I have often stayed in that sustaining force. I have often stayed there to avoid dissolving (even if where I am staying isn’t healthy or if I hold on to emotions or resentments simply because at least they are something I know). Now I know that I also need to dissolve. I need to embrace it and be able to move into it in order to live well. To not live in death or a fear of death and to be able to sit with it and beside it and know that it’s okay. That it’s a part of living.

It feels as though I’ve entered completely new ground. Only it’s not fully new. It’s built upon the foundation of all those times in shavasana. No matter what happened during them, the fact was that I am able to practice “perfecting” that pose. It’s far from perfect (and may never be, even in my actual death) and it’s not the “perfecting” that interests me. It’s the practice.

Do No Harm… And…

Do no harm.

Ahimsa.

This is the first limb of Patanjali’s system of yoga. The first yama or principle is inspired by the premise that all living beings have the spark of the divine spiritual energy; therefore, to hurt another being is to hurt oneself.

I’m starting to explore this concept in a different way than I have seen it before. As I’ve grown through my yoga practice and other healing work, I’ve started to see ways in which I send harm toward myself and how to send myself love in those moments. I’m not always successful at doing this and the thoughts sometimes spin out of control and, recently, I became tired of them.

Last year, I started to see a pattern of anger and resentment stemming from moments when I feel hurt. A pattern of internalizing the emotions out of fear of expressing them (especially anger) to another person. Fearful that the anger would erupt and I would lose the person as a result. Fearful then at that loss of abandonment that I then pre-emptively would try to get that person out of my life. I would take on all the pain that was caused and without saying anything, but often try to emanate it and will that they felt it too.

I caused harm to myself in this way and to others because, of course, the anger would still come out. I would be unkind or mean. I would often lash out to another being or myself.

Though I would never ever say the words, “you hurt me”.

I couldn’t give voice to the direct moment or experience. Instead, I let myself be hurt.

I took it on. I held all of it. I turned it inward (because I could dole out the punishment internally or to myself and control the amount – or so I thought).

In the past few weeks I had some experiences where I was incredibly hurt. Of course, I didn’t say anything directly. Instead, after trying every coping mechanism I had, my behavior escalated to match the hurt I felt and throw it back.

After a few attempts to clear it up, there was some success. And then, when I was again on my own and felt safe, for the first time in my life I actually really truly felt the sensation of anger. It was so strong and I stayed present with it. Wow! That is some powerful stuff!

In my yoga practice that night, I had an interesting thing occur. I could feel all of the anger and, at the same time, there was this fusion of it with love. I didn’t know that those feelings could merge. That they could be implicit in one another. It started to give me a new understanding and it started to let anger feel more safe.

I’ve kept anger separate for so long, I have had to learn that it’s okay to even feel it. Let alone express it.

A few years ago, the therapist I work with had explained that anger is healthy because it lets you know when you feel hurt. That concept rattled my brain. It didn’t make sense and it did make sense. All those years ago a seed was planted.

I’m not sure when or how but in the wake of being with this emotion and thinking about feeling hurt, I replayed a bunch of other times when I didn’t say anything. I had a flash of a near memory that I can’t quite place – that somewhere along the way I learned or was taught to not show people you’re hurt because they’ll know how to hurt you again. Don’t tell them. Don’t give them the ammunition to use against you.

I learned never to say, “you’re hurting me” or “don’t hurt me” or “stop”.

I never really learned that hurting me is not okay. Or, if I did learn it, I didn’t take it in or understand it.

I have never given voice to someone else directly for causing me harm. Not once that I can remember.

Don’t show your weakness. Don’t be vulnerable.

So I masked it. As best I could and as best I knew how.

I hold it. I hold onto the experience.

I absorb it.

I take on the responsibility. I take on the anger. I hold it in my body and my cells.

The anger can’t be expressed. The hurt can’t be expressed.

The wounds deepen and kept being held.

The triggers widen.

Unexpressed hurt that can turn into anger often leads to depression. This has been true for me. In the wake of all of this new growth with anger, I did reach a limit of being able to stay with it and I just wanted it to go away. I then felt the edges of depression creeping in around the corners of my being and, my new anger embodiment I told the depression, “no”.

“No. No. No. No. No. You are not coming back”.

I felt myself flip back into the anger and that made the depression go away. Huh…

When I start to look at how I got to where I am now through the lens of the chakra system, I can see all the first chakra work I have done to feel like I belong. Like I’m safe and that I matter. I can see the belief work I’ve done in the second chakra – including so much emotional exploration and understanding how controlling and limiting held beliefs can be. How to find movement. I can see the third chakra and shifts in my feelings of powerlessness and power and how to try to not exert power over others (including leaving them before they can leave me). I start to see the fourth chakra of relationships and connection to others and to myself and how stunted it has been because of my belief and that is tied to the fifth chakra – of not giving voice.

Not giving voice to my needs. Not asking for help. Not saying, “you’re hurting me”. It never even occurred to me as an option.

Not even once.

I find that surprising.

What are some of the outcomes? If I say, “you’re hurting me”…

The person could choose to keep doing it or hurt me more. That has been my belief.

What is more likely, is the person might say, “oh, I didn’t realize that – I’m so sorry” or “I’ll try to not do that again”.

The person may hear me and may not want to hurt me. They may even take responsibility for it (meaning I wouldn’t “have” to). Even if they don’t – my expressing it or giving it voice means I’m not passively allowing myself to be hurt.

Why have I never thought that those outcomes were options?

I was too busy being caught up in it to see it. Reacting in the ways I always have.

Because the belief was so very strong, it has been running the show. It has been behind every decision I made. Behind all the fear. The taking on. The not expressing.

There are other dimensions of course. Other pieces of the puzzle that fit in. Other beliefs that also led me here, underlying and playing along with this one.

I’m starting to see how my fear of persecution is linked; because I let myself constantly feel attacked without knowing how to protect myself. How hard it was to accept and ask for help when I was deeply wounded (I was more comfortable staying in the wound… until I wasn’t). How much I have frozen in the past when blindsided by hurt without knowing which way to go or what to do.

I am only just starting to wrap my head around this realization as it is so very new. It’s fascinating for me to see these connections now. And, in seeing them, to hopefully learn (with help!) how to shift and make different choices going forward. To choose to heal all of this hurt instead of staying in embedded or exposed wounds. To hopefully learn how to no longer take on more.

To say no. You’re hurting me. Stop. It is not okay to hurt me.

In my Apprenticeship in Ireland we work with the sacred law that “nothing shall be done to harm the child”. I wonder if hearing that so many times in the last two years has also helped contributed to this realization. I think it has.

Nothing shall be done to harm the child.

Ahimsa.

Do no harm…. And…. Take no harm.

The Illusion of Movement

IMG_5147I am constantly hard on myself and I’m getting tired of it.

It’s one thing I’m remarkably good at – those thought forms flowing as if they’re designed to hit me as their target.

Since they are coming from me, they rarely miss. It’s quite well-designed, if I think about it. A constant barrage designed to… designed to what?

On one side, it seems as though this stream of relentless hardness is trying to beat me down. Perhaps designed to keep me in place? Keep me small?

On the other side, I am reminded that this is my way of assuming control. I turn all energy inward because I can control just how angry or upset or disappointed I feel with myself. I can control how hard I am on myself. It feels safer than to express it to or towards somewhere else.

It lets me believe I’m taking it all on at the same time as it feels like I become pinned down.

The more it starts to zero in on the target, pinning me down, the more I typically have let the thoughts win, escalating often into a more manic energy or a depressed one, depending on the thoughts coming. Until now… now something is different.

It’s interesting because right now is the most free I’ve ever been in my life in many ways. I’m constantly moving with my nomadic lifestyle (I’ve been lucky enough to stay in 44 places in five countries in nearly 7 months). I’m always meeting new people and deepening relationships with people I’ve known for a long time. I’m accepting support more than I ever have before and, a lot of the time, I’m feeling quite full and happy (something not all that long ago I didn’t believe was possible).

In this constant movement, I’m also seeing some of my dreams come true. For years and years, I said I didn’t have any dreams. I didn’t believe in them. When people asked me what they were, my mind was blank. Empty – nothing came up except for a deep feeling of a knot tied from my throat to my root. I felt like I needed to defend myself and created the lack of belief in having dreams.

Now, I see that my dreams have always been of becoming a healer, and living a nomadic life. I just never thought they were possible or things one “could” be or do. People who are constantly on the move are never really valued in history. I see now how many of my decisions come down to feeling valued by others. I never felt secure enough internally to live that life even though I yearned for it (until, one day, I felt rooted within myself and off I went).

So, imagine my surprise as I laid down in shavasana to listen to a yoga nidra a couple of days ago that happened to do with the theme of feeling stuck. I immediately understood all this inner chaos as surfacing areas where I feel stuck in my life (and have been for what feels like ages).

Huh… I didn’t see that coming at all!

With all of the physical moving I’m doing right now, all of the new experiences, all of the things I adore, I didn’t realize I have also been feeling incredibly stuck and that stuckness has been rising to the surface in a relentless barrage of thoughts about what I’m doing and not doing with my life. I give myself a hard time about choosing this path of being a healer. I give myself a hard time about not having a “job” and traveling so much without a steady income. I hear the voices of what I “should” be doing. These are the tip of the avalanche of thought that then cascades down zeroing in, repeating, expanding, growing stronger and (for the past week or so in particular) the thoughts have been constant, loud, and so frustrating to sit with.

In my Way of the Wise Healer training a few weeks ago we were asked to make a commitment. Mine came up in an earlier healing session and as I said the words, “I commit to loving my womb,” out loud I felt a swell of emotion spring up from the depths of my being.

This area for me has been a main point of storing weakness. Storing trauma. Storing stories that aren’t even mine – stories and beliefs I’ve inherited. Storing experiences and emotions.

My womb been treated as a storage unit.

In the yoga chakra tradition, this area of the physical and energetic bodies is associated with the element of water. It’s an area that needs to be constantly moving in order to stay healthy. Constantly in flow. In my past, this area has received massive blows physically and emotionally. It has retained and held on to so much. I’m used to it holding on to so much.

A few years ago, I received my first Mayan Abdominal massage and as I was nearly levitating off the table as the practitioner did her work, she said to me with a strong and caring voice at the end “you need to let go”. It took me a year and a half to have another treatment because so much was stirred up from that first one. I’ve been taught how to do it myself and have, intermittently.

With this commitment to love my womb, I started to treat myself to the abominal massages again. The physical attention to this area in a loving way is difficult for me. Even resting my hands over my womb and imagining love going to this area is challenging. It’s a huge block that has also softened. I’ve sensed this area as a weak spot energetically and also psychologically in the past. It makes so much of what has happened in my life make sense – to see the stories created around my womb. How I’ve treated it and not taken care of it well.  In a way, it’s a weakness that I’ve come to wear as a badge of identity and I’ve become attached the weakness. I’ve become attached to the story of that weakness because that means nothing needs to change. I can stay weak. I can keep holding onto a reason for that weakness and use the story as an excuse for so many things.

Only I no longer wish to remain in that story of weakness. It’s part of what I need to let go of.

I’m used to my womb contracting and holding onto so much. Perhaps that’s part of the weakness in this area too.

It’s been hard for me to even face this area of my physical body. It’s been a challenge to send love to that part of myself. For years I couldn’t have even considered that possibility. Now it’s more like a strong dissonance or disregard rather than a full on war of ignorance.

A few days ago, I stopped with the massage and I realized today that it’s what has stirred up all this energy and emotion and thoughts that are wildly working their way through. It can take a while for deeply held and stored patterns to shift and when they don’t want to, they start to scream out. No energy – not even the hard stuff – wants to give itself up. It doesn’t want to die.

And yet, I need that old energy to die so I can facilitate and give life to new energy here.

The block held here reaches into many parts of my life that I still have dreams of fulfilling. Finding a man to share my life with. Co-creating a family.

More dreams that I denied for a very long time. I used to say I never wanted to get married or to have children. I used to hold firm to beliefs about how I’d never find a guy. Now, I do want those things. In the past I would tell myself, painfully, all the reasons why that life wasn’t for me. All designed to keep me in the realm of impossibility. The belief of not being able to. Not having. Now, after all these years, I do believe they are possible. Now I see myself with love and being loved. Now… the energy that still feels stuck is the part that wraps me up in seeing what I don’t have or can’t have instead of all that I do.

I remind myself to see the abundance all around and that does often shift the thoughts. I’m constantly learning that when I get caught up in self-criticism and the vacuum of lack, I need to pause and see that nothing has been taken away from me. I need to pause and send those voices in my head love and compassion. I need to hear them and know that they are shifting. They’re screaming out for attention. They’re screaming out for love. They feel scared and are trying to find a way out of feeling that way. Even if it’s to remain stuck – that is at least something they know.

It’s almost as though part of myself gets to become the parent to these thoughts because I see them not as current thoughts or truths; they are old parts of me that were created for different purposes along the path of life. They aren’t right or wrong. They’re just no longer what I need. It’s time to thank them for serving their purpose and let them go too.

Now I can see that it’s from that stuck and stagnant energy that these thoughts start to form. Trying to keep it stuck, as it has been for years? Or trying to send me messages that it’s time to let go. Time to release?

The second chakra developmentally holds our likes and dislikes (which aren’t set – they can shift and something you’ve never liked can become liked). As those likes and dislikes are formed they start to inform a greater story and help create a system of beliefs or a lens through which to see the world. This area governs polarities of energy which for me have often been quite extreme. It’s one of the sources of creation and creativity (the other being the fifth chakra) and as it’s the element of water it is often associated with emotion, movement and how we move through life – with fluidity and ease or with rigidity and hardness?

The hard parts of me are maybe starting to erode and my go-to response and structure is to favour rigidity. My first tendency is to block flow, not allow it to move but to try to control it. I’ve had to find movement and continue to cultivate it. I’ve had to discover that I had a physical body and I’ve learned to be with the sensations and emotions that move through it instead of constantly trying to make them not move. I’ve learned that beliefs are just beliefs – they too can die and be reborn. With these new and evolving skills, there is still so much stored in the body yearning for release and there are dreams rising to the surface that I shoved aside for years (along with all the ways I discounted them).

It’s almost as if me being on the move so often distracted me from how stuck these parts of me really are. I can see now the illusion of movement. Even though parts of me are racing ahead and feeling great, other parts are now crying out and needing some time to be heard. It’s time to pay attention to this neglected part of myself. Time to heal.

Mistaking Connection

IMG_4347When I was a kid I often watched The Littlest Hobo on T.V. – it’s a series with a dog who moves from town to town, from home to home, helping to facilitate some sort of shift or healing or change. Growth. By the end of each episode he would move on and I would be left, sitting nearly frozen, and sobbing away. Sobbing my heart out at him leaving all by himself. Wandering off, most times without even saying goodbye. I felt so attached to the goodbye (extra hurt that there wasn’t a proper one) and I didn’t understand that he had to leave. Why? Why couldn’t he just stay there in that place where people loved him and needed him? He’d move on and I’d watch again with the same result. Happiness, joy, sadness. Over and over.

It is interesting now that I’m the one who is nomadic. I’m the one who decided to open to impermanence and sort of “hit the road”, coming into people’s homes and lives. I don’t know that I facilitate anything while I’m there and that’s okay. What I’m learning is how to receive more fully and how to allow gratitude to fill me up. In five months, I’ve stayed in 38 places in four countries.

Every time I arrive at a new place I feel at home almost instantly. The same things need to happen and yet new patterns emerge just as quickly. Simple things like finding food or a route to take to offer class. The different ways people go about their days. I like that emergence.

What I’m noticing lately is connection. I’ve been thinking of how much I would cry at those good-byes I witnessed through the T.V.  I’ve been thinking of how much my heart felt twisted up in knots and my stomach wailed. They weren’t even my own and yet I responded as if they were. As I move from place to place I’m noticing that saying goodbye isn’t difficult or devastating. I may or may not see the people I’m with again (some I’ve just met when I show up on their doorstep) and I notice that something has shifted.

I think that until now, I have confused connection for attachment. That confusion has caused me to grasp onto the attachments I’ve had, mistaking them for connection. When I think of the Yamas, aparigraha comes to mind as the virtue of non-possessiveness, non-greed, non-coveting, and non-grasping. The Yamas are a part of the key on the path of alleviating suffering.

That is what I was doing all those years ago – it was almost as if I watched the show in order to create and inflict suffering. Yes, there was joy also and I liked the show. Knowing myself now, I suspect I watched it to try to invoke some sort of suffering. As I take a look at myself through the lens of aparigraha I see that I have often clung to stuff, relationships, work, etc. and clung to the state of suffering itself because I was fearful of losing the attachments I had created. I was fearful that losing them would be painful. I think I was even afraid to lose my attachment to suffering.

I can see that I’ve sought attachments in relationships, not connection. I’ve created and spun many ways of becoming attached and, of course, feel that suffering when they become “taken away”. When a relationship ends, I wonder, how much of my grief is loss of the actual relationship and how much is the suffering because of all the attachments I’ve created are also being cut. I’m seeing how many times I’ve built something based purely on attachment. It’s kind of staggering to witness. Creating attachment comes so easily for me and, once lost, it can be disorienting, extremely painful and the attachments seek another place to stay alive or become, well, attached.

Except something new seems to be growing. Now there is an abundance of connection. I’ve created and strengthened the connection I have with and within myself. I’ve strengthened my connection with nature. As I continue to become more and more connected, I start to feel a true connection with other people. I listen more. I notice the play between being and feeling connected with others and what happens when there is a disconnection (particularly in being present when listening). What I’m starting to understand is that connection is limitless. Connection is a huge and powerful flow of abundance and connection has nothing to do with attachment. The more connected I feel and become, the less attachment I have or need. The foundation has started to shift.

When there is connection, there is no need for attachment.

As I leave one place for the next, I haven’t once felt a sense of suffering. I have felt so fully connected wherever I am that I haven’t needed to create attachments. I then haven’t needed to cling to those attachments or identify myself by them. I’m simply starting to flow and open to this huge channel of connection that is everywhere all the time. Moving on feels effortless.

The more I open to this abundant connection, the more full I become. The emptiness that my attachments helped create (or my own internal lack that helped me rely on attachments) and the fear of losing starts to give way too. The attachments are simply things I create, often to manipulate or find a false sense of security, belonging or being. The attachments have been a crutch. Maybe because I felt so very disconnected. Maybe I had to learn how to connect.

To learn the distinction between creating attachments and creating connection. What I’m starting to see is that you can’t covet connection. You simply are connection.

For whatever reason, this is part of my practice. Letting go of attachment and learning that my attachments aren’t real. Letting go of the expectation of suffering and seeing if I can let go of inflicting suffering. Shedding all of that energy spent seeking how to become attached and, instead, letting connection be boundless.