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Posts Tagged ‘spiritual healing’

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes 
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!…

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond. 

 ~Rumi

Resistance is so devious!  Now that I started meditating twice a day again, it convinced me that I don’t need to journal (and blog) even though writing deepens my consciousness and feeds my soul; and I fell for it! I have not written in days and I feel it.   It’s not that I am not having insights and writing ideas—on the contrary; but I allow myself to be distracted by excuses and, supposedly, being “responsible”.  Not only that, but a study of my own process would help me be more compassionate about others’ resistances.  But resistance is also insidious and unimaginably perseverant.  It does not give up, and I am not going to feed it, at least for now, by spending my entire time writing session writing about it.   Okay, this is freaky and an example of resistance’s chicanery. A Steven Pressfield quote disappeared from the page even though I am using track changes!  In the War of Art, Pressfield writes that “[t] he more important a call or action is to our soul’s evolution, the more Resistance we will feel toward pursuing it. Know what he is talking about?

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Last week, my mother spent a couple of days with me, and since my Michigan days when both mom and dad would stay with me for weeks, I love her visits.  In my turf, unlike when she is in hers, she operates within adult boundaries, hers and mine. At home, her inner child has full discretion and when mine is awakened, it becomes a playground brawl.

We chatted in the morning about our family and ancestral histories, reminiscing about her parents and grandparents. From the little she remembers, we are descendants of Basques.  You may have heard about them at different times in the news for terrorists acts against Spain because they want independence. Huh, it makes sense why this French guy once called me an “emotional terrorist”.  I also learned a family secret that gripped tightly for decades has now been released by a less vigilant aging mind. It turns out, that my grandfather, Juan, was in jail for 20 months for shooting a man during an argument.  As she tells the story, the father of the man he shot, let’s call him “Justo”, later said that had he known my grandfather was such an upstanding man, he would not have had him prosecuted.  As the story goes, while in jail, Juan arranged to send  some medicine to Justo’s younger son, who was ill.  Truth, or fiction?  I choose to believe that it is true because my grandfather was a magnanimous and service-oriented man, or at least, that is what I grew up hearing.

I realize that I have spent my life not listening to my mother.  Although she brought me into this world, she became part of the wallpaper of my life. She was background noise and an obligation, kind of like taxes.  As much as I cry that I was invisible to my family, she was invisible to me. When I was younger I bemoaned her not being there for me—all I remember is my father’s, at first indulging and, as I grew up, possessive, overbearing, and suffocating love.  Growing up, I felt that she loved my father best; yet, although he wanted her to leave Cuba with him during the early days of The Revolution, she would not leave us behind. And, when my accomplishments were never enough for my father’s demands that I fulfill his aborted dreams, to my mother I was always enough.

When I was leaving for my first quarter at Chicago, I remember her saying that although most people would be more than satisfied with what I had, I was leaving it all to go for more. Although I realize now that I could have construed her statement as a criticism (like, aren’t you ever happy?), I experienced it as an affirmation. This is not to say that she did not have her own dreams of becoming a journalist and of, literally, climbing mountains; but unlike my father, she did not impose her dreams on me. The funny thing is that I unconsciously took it upon myself to climb the summits her sex, culture, and history prevented her from climbing.  Wait, whose dreams have I been living?

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Our most habitual and compelling feelings and thoughts define the core of who we think we are.  If we are caught in the trance of unworthiness, we experience that core as flawed.  When we take life personally by I-ing and my-ing, the universal sense that “something is wrong” easily solidifies into “something is wrong with me.

Tara Brach in Radical Acceptance: Embracing Life with the heart of Buddha

 

Okay, it has been almost two weeks since I last blogged.  I get into the zone of my life, and I forget about the blog until I start to get a nagging pull to write.  I started feeling this way two days ago, and  I decided to observe my process since it is emblematic of how I operate. It is interesting that I responded to my internal blog due date, since I have not established one officially, the way I use to react to professional writing deadlines; in other words, the way I react to responsibility.  As you may recall from past blogs, I (or should I say, my inner child) hates and avoids responsibility; and, I see now that I have turned this blog from something I love to something I HAVE to do.  It’s no wonder I have not been blogging!  Achh!  Why do I do this?

Perhaps David Friedman’s Thought Exchange system can help me get to the bottom of this; I finally got the book on Monday, and I am actually reading it!  So, according to Friedman, thoughts lead to physical sensations that lead to thoughts and beliefs, and, ultimately, to a manifestation.  My not writing my blog on time is the manifestation of my thought/belief; and, even shallow digging reveals that I have always felt like a Slacker, and on some level, I believe I am one.  I had so much adult responsibility as a child, that anything else I did as I grew older paled in comparison; hence, I always feel like I am not doing enough.

As I think about this, the belief that I am a slacker probably originated out of guilt for not wanting to do serve as my parents’ translator and English scribe when I should have been doing kid things.  I have the belief, but what is the thought, since the two are different?  I am thinking that the belief is “I won’t do it”, or, is it, “I can’t do it.”  Aha!  As a child, I probably doubted my ability to complete the adult tasks assigned to me, so I developed the thought that “I can’t do it.”  But that is different from slacking, isn’t it?  Slackers don’t want to do whatever “it” is, whether they can or not.  But then again, our thoughts and beliefs are often based on falsehood, and they don’t make sense.

Byron Katie, whose system, The work, also deals with thoughts, would ask me to interrogate whether I know that my thoughts are true; and, they are not.  I am not a SLACKER!  If I were, I would not have graduated from college at 16, from college at 20, and from graduate school at 22.  I also would not have completed a doctorate at 32, but I admit that I was disappointed that I was not done by age 30.  I am reciting these accomplishments not to brag but to dissuade myself of the “SLACKER” belief.  But, again, because I didn’t want to be forced into doing things, like publishing for the sake of publishing, I concluded that I was a master SLACKER.  David Friedman advises that I exchange my thought “I won’t” to “I will” and my slacker belief to “I am industrious.”  And, Byron Katie would ask, who would I be without those thoughts?  A happy and productive blogger!

 

 

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Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.

-Neale Donald Walsch-

I thought it might be good to take stock in the past year before I start writing about 2012.  I can’t believe that wrote a total of 58 blog posts this past year; it is interesting, however, that I still have not written a background description for “About the blog” section. I hasn’t been the right time, I guess.  Still, it would have been nice to reach 60 posts, as the WordPress people were encouraging me to do, but it didn’t happen. I was not avoiding, though; I was just too busy living to write.  Yes, I have finally come out–remember the post with the Diana Ross song title?  It’s happening!  I am thrilled.  Elated.  I feel like Houdini after escaping the nailed and chained packing crate submerged under the East River in NYC.  Though I am still teaching two online courses, I am emotionally done with academia.  Over!  And, I have started a new life.

Meeting Judith Chusid on July 31 was transformational, professionally, spiritually, and socially.  As part of my training for Success is an Inside Job™ (SIIJ) workshops, I attended one myself, participated in an ongoing group working on blocks to success, and attended trainings on psychodrama. And although I felt lost at first, I shut down my Greek chorus when it started to berate me; and, pushing past the initial confusion, I see that psychodrama builds on my prior social work and spiritual knowledge and skill, and in the spring, I will be running workshops on my own.  Also, my academic way of thinking complements my collaborators’’ analytic training, which means that I am using all aspects of myself, as I had been longing to do.

So, after years of feeling professionally depleted and unappreciated, both Judith and Paul, from the Blanton-Peale Institute, sincerely value me.  As I write this, I am thinking that, I must be loving myself more, since our experiences and the people around us mirror our inner life. Oh, and wait, there is more.  I am meeting so many interesting people, both socially and professionally through Judith and SIIJ—fashion models, actors, writers, business people, and a recovering academic!  I am exploring the world beyond the Ivory Tower, and I am learning that no matter what we do for a living, or how successful we are, we all have the same fears and longings.

Before I go, I want to thank you for reading this past year and to wish you blessings beyond your wildest imaginations, like the ones I have received this past year. I will continue to write, though I am wondering about changing the format and the frequency.  We shall see.

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The biggest obstacle to our staying with the new thoughts we take on is that “positive” thoughts often generate “negative” feelings.

David Friedman

This time, I have taken even longer to get back to writing, but this is a pattern for me, and I have discovered that it is related to my “fear of success.”  Whenever I am succeeding at something, I freak out, and I stop.  But this freaking out is not loud and conspicuous; it is insidious and sneaky.  It tiptoes and whispers so lowly in my ear, that I can’t defend myself against it, succumbing helplessly to its grip.  Looking back, as the affirmations for my blog increased so did my fear.  But instead of taking in the love, I jumped from the present moment into a foreboding future of writer’s block and rejection.  They say you create your reality, and I did.  If my fear was that you would stop reading—- well, you have, because I stopped writing. It is interesting that instead of writing, “stop reading”; I wrote “top reading I am more afraid of the former than the latter.  In other words, how can I someday have a widely read blog when I can’t accept the job of my current readership?

Over the years, I have learned of my difficulty tolerating the sensations associated with love and success, and I have been working on changing that. When I was young, I avoided falling in love because I could not tolerate the exhilaration after meeting someone who excited me. I felt so out of control and agitated that I wouldn’t sleep for days.  The same happened if I were excited about a job. To protect myself, I just realized, I shielded my heart with the cloak of avoidance. If I don’t succeed, I don’t have to deal with my heart prancing around, overwhelmed by the excitement (terror?) of infinite possibility. Although I am still prey to avoidance, since I often don’t see it coming, I am learning to mindfully sit with the sensations associated with success. Sometimes, when I sit with Judith Chusis, my mentor and collaborator on the Success is an Inside Job project, I am assaulted by anxiety that makes me want to jump from my skin or even throw up.  At those times, I soothe myself by recognizing the pattern, telling myself that I am okay, and bringing myself back to the present moment. But when the fear is restrained, I don’t become aware of its grip until days or weeks later.

As you know from past blogs, I do background research as I write.  When I searched using the keywords “tolerance of positive emotions”, I could only find information, mostly psychoanalytic about tolerating negative feeling states.  Interesting, I just discovered that for me, positive feelings become negative because I feel deregulated.  It’s no wonder I have been avoiding the things that make my heart race and frantically dance! So, what am I going to do about this?  I am going to continue to work on tolerating the sensations associated with expansion by sitting with them until I make them my friends, as Thich Nhat Hahn, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, would say, and I am going to read the book, Thought Exchange, by David Friedman.  Friedman, a highly successful songwriter, author, and speaker, has written a book about changing your thoughts to create your reality. When my friend Cath told me about it, I skeptically asked what was unique about this book since others have expressed this idea in, for example, Ask and it is Given, Conversations with God, and the Secret.  What she replied, caught my attention.  According to Friedman, you must learn to tolerate the sensations associated with your positive thoughts.  I have to go order my book.  To be continued.

P.S.  I hope you had a peaceful holiday.

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Last week, I had the insight that, I may be co-dependent.  In the past, I have rejected co-dependency as professional jargon, but last week, something told me to check it out; I did, and I’ve decided that it is a useful construct.  The term co-dependency grew out of the Alcoholics’ Anonymous Movement, along with the understanding that, the alcoholic was not the only part of the equation.  In essence, co-dependency is excessive caretaking at significant personal expense.   It is learned behavior that is passed on from one generation to another.  Although it took me almost a lifetime to admit it; my father had a drinking problem when he was younger, which is, obviously, a risk factor.

As I write this, I am also reminded of female gender socialization; in other words, females, across cultures are socialized to be caretakers of their children and their men.  Then, there are the expectations in some cultures (like Hispanic and Asian) that family come first.  I started wondering about all of this, because I have noticed that I spend most of my mental energy thinking about others.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to imply that I am a martyr, since there is always a pay-off.  Thinking about others distracts  me from taking responsibility for myself.  For example, when I was on tenure-track at Michigan, I would stop my work, or whatever else I was doing, to answer a phone call.  Abandoning your routine to respond to somebody else is one of the symptoms of co-dependency, according to Melodie Beattie in Co-Dependent No More. It took me years, and I am not kidding about this, to figure out that I could choose not to answer, or if I did, that I could say, “I’m busy, can I call you back?”  And, although I am far better than I was back then, I still other-escape.  Feeling compelled to help people solve their problems is another one of my symptoms, which may be why I avoided clinical social work.  Instead, I was addicting to helping others as a hobby.

As I said, earlier, this behavior is learned.  In my family, my mother would put her needs aside for my father and we were supposed to as well.  Her needs, my sister’s, or mine did not matter because my father ruled the roost; this implied that we should not have needs that conflicted with my father’s, and after he died, my mother’s.  He wanted me to get an education, to marry young, have children, and to live near the family.  That, of course, was not what I wanted, so I rebelled: I left home, got a PhD, married late, and didn’t get around to having children.  I don’t mean to blame my parents, but to recognize that I have been programmed to be-other directed, and I wonder whether that is why I didn’t make active choices in my career.  I did choose to go back to school, in part as an escape, but once I did, I followed the program that was traced for me by my dissertation advisor, both to please her and to avoid struggling with getting a “real job,” one that was not a continuation of graduate school.  Fast forward, twenty-five years, and I am taking baby-steps to discern my needs and wants, making friends with uncertainty, taking leaps, and hoping that, as the saying goes, I grow wings along the way.  My mantra:  It’s all about me.  What about you?  Are you taking care of you?

References:

Mental Health America: Co-dependency

Codependency | Melody Beattie

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Be careful of what you ask for!  Don’t say I haven’t warned you.  I asked for an open heart, and I got one, literally; I asked to feel, and I am itching!  To clarify, my teacher, Chetana,  taught me the heart chakra is associated with feeling, and when we are working on issues, we may experience them on the skin level, as the body holds our memories.  Having lived most of my life in my mind, I have often been oblivious that, as one body worker told me years ago, I have a body attached to my head.  I often need reminding of this fact, and the Universe provides me with reminders (e.g., open-heart surgery).   Thanks, Universe!  I must warn you, though, that this entry may trigger your Entomophobia (bug phobia), or may give you one, if you don’t already have one.

My story begins in Massachusetts, on October 28, when I accompanied my husband, his rowing partner and his wife to the Head of the Charles Regatta.  I was ambivalent about going, due to my separation anxiety, but I challenged myself venture out of my comfort zone.  We stayed at a Quality Inn that was clean and had the best breakfast I’d seen in similar establishments.  The weather was fall-like pleasant, and although my husband and his rowing partner did not do well, I enjoyed the company.  On the way home, stopping at a Subway to eat dinner, I start itching on my forearm.  Of course, I start scratching, thinking that I have become allergic to the tight, wool sweater I am wearing, and I wonder whether I will have to get rid of all my sweaters, if that is the case.  We ate and got back on the road.  But by the time I got home, my forearms were covered with bright crimson red, itchy welts.  Closer inspection revealed welts on my arms, and one on my neck.  Then the dizzying realization hit me.  I had been attacked by, yes, BED BUGS!  These miniature bloodsuckers had strategically bitten me wherever they found a prominent vein; my husband, of course, was untouched.  I say, of course, because this was the second time that I was attacked by these hideous creatures and he’d  been spared.   Why me?

Being chomped on by bed bugs is bad enough, but then there is the terrifying question about whether they ‘hitchhiked’ home with you.  PANIC!  If you have been living in this country, you may know that with a 5,000 percent increase in recent years, we are experiencing a bed bug epidemic.  Further, these pests are resilient, and difficult to eradicate.   More PANIC.  Okay, so what to do, except put all the clothes we took on the trip in the laundry, wrap the luggage in a plastic bag, and pull out the Belleruth Naperstek guided imagery to help me sleep, so that I won’t be up all night wondering if they are going to attack me again.  Although I fell asleep, I was a sharp sting on my leg awakened me.  I scratched, turned over, decided not to panic, and went back to sleep.  When I awoke the next morning, the side of my left hand and my left ankle had red, itchy, bites that were smaller and different from my previous bites.  Fleas!  More itching and no scratching to avoid infection.

Once again, I washed all the bedding in the house, my clothes, our dog’s bedding, vacuuming and more vacuuming, extensive internet searches about bed bug annihilation, and depression.  I began to take it personally.  Why were they only attacking me?  I envisioned being  completely isolated because no one would want to visit a bed bug infested house, marked by a giant red CONDEMNED sign.  Although Google is replete with resources and gadgets to decimate them—-steamers are supposed to work the best—I decided to call professional exterminators.  Add financial terror to the equation.  After going through all the options, and, of course, the only one they guaranteed for 90 days cost an estimated $3700 hundred dollars, my depression was morphing into despair.  I marveled that my fear and anxiety were greater than when I was diagnosed with an aortic aneurysm.  I felt trapped, forsaken, and forlorn, and I allowed myself to feel those feelings.  After all, I was getting what I asked for— to feel.  But in the midst of my suffering, I could hear the voice of Byron Katie whispering to me,

“Life is simple. Everything happens for you, not to you. Everything happens at exactly the right moment, neither too soon nor too late. You don’t have to like it… it’s just easier if you do.”

In retrospect, I was so anguished because I could not even escape to my bed for my refuge, my all time favorite escape.  I had absolutely no place to run because if I moved to another bed, the bed bugs would follow!  Seriously.  I felt physically and emotionally ambushed by bugs I could not see—in part, because they were not there.  (As I write this, I am scratching my head, and having flashbacks of head lice when I was in elementary school while my sister was spared.)  Memories of other times I’d felt in danger also flooded me—like when Sweet Money was abusing our dog and stealing my money and my car, and when I was a child in Cuba, and a gunfight ensued right outside our bedroom window.  My diagnosis was another stunning blow.  But the bed bugs were not my only triggers; at around the same, a woman I know who was diagnosed with a defective valve was preparing for surgery at the same hospital where I had my mine; the frozen grief melted once again, and I cried enough tears to wash away  colonies of bed bugs and flies.  I’d finally unleashed the tears I could not shed when I was diagnosed, out of fear that if I did, I would fall apart before the surgeons got to me.

Spiritually, I wondered what bed bugs and fleas had come to teach me. Between the washing and the crying, I cleansed my inner and outer spaces, and I began to feel relief.  Both the tears and the bites subsided, though the fading scars and phantom itching remains.  But, I admit that I am still afraid I will be bitten again when I least expect it.   At those times,  I remind myself of my friend Eric’s wise counsel when I cried to him that, I’ve always seen the world as unsafe, and even more so now.   “Although the world is unsafe, perhaps you can learn to feel safe in it,” he told me.  I am trying.  So what did the bed bugs teach me?  They taught me that fear can be so much more terrifying than reality, that I can handle whatever comes my way, and that it is time to stop hiding in my bed!

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