Tag Archive | alternative health care

Love Is the Answer. What Was the Question?

Jane Elizabeth Hart, my spiritual mentor and author of Spiritual Power Tools: Support for Your Soul, would often say in her classes, “Love is the answer. What is the question?”

She was reminding us that every day provides opportunities to love—and not just the easy ones. As her students, we would ask her, “What do I do about this person? What do I need to do to forgive and release them from my life?” At times, underneath such questions was the ulterior motive of either making the person change or wanting them out of our lives altogether! Jane Elizabeth would respond with the bottom line answer: Love.

This was our direction: That no matter how much processing, forgiving and releasing we do, our action step is still the same: to love unconditionally, without judgment or hesitation. Her question became a tool in the midst of difficult interactions. We could ask our selves, “If I were coming from love, how would I act?”

At Christmastime, there is an energy of love which opens our hearts to giving and receiving love. Let your Christmas intention be to share love freely, especially with those more difficult characters in your Christmas story.

Love is the answer. What was the question?

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A Few SAD Ideas to Support Your Happiness

FOOD winterNortherners, it’s that time of year again. The beautiful colors of the leaves trigger the awareness of the impending cold, dreary days ahead, in spite of autumn awe.

My monthly client-load often increases about now, due to what has become known as SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder; also known as the “Winter Blues”.

And, yes, it’s a thing. Less sun, less vitamin D, increased isolation and home-bodiness, which may mean fewer interactions with friends and family. It’s an imposed hibernation-mode existence…Except, as humans, we don’t hibernate.

So, what can one do to help keep spirits up throughout the cold months?

If you are feeling depressed, can’t get out of bed (versus not wanting to), feel hopeless, isolate from others, or feel suicidal, please get help immediately! You are worth every effort you make to feel better!

Otherwise, I encourage my clients to tackle this season in mind and body:

For the body, there are several recommendations out there for the efficacy of ingesting extra vitamin D supplements. Check with your doctor for specific dosage and type that would be best for your body.

Another popular practice is using a sun lamp for the ultraviolet rays we miss out on when we are covered with layers of home and blankets. Twenty minutes a day, preferably in the morning (don’t use it before bedtime—it may interfere with your melatonin production, and therefore sleep cycle!).

Keep healthy food around. Since many food-focused holidays happen in winter, make sure your food choices are healthier ones. Keep bananas on the table, and apples close by. Snack on fulfilling nuts rather than chocolates (although a little dark chocolate here and there can go a long way!). Try new healthy recipes to occupy the part of your brain that focused on food. As you may have noticed, pumpkin spice goes a long way!

For the mind, exercise! Yes, this is great for your body, too, but exercise will help those good brain chemicals lift your mood throughout your day. Plus it will get you moving and distracted from the cold temperatures.

Every day, remember to acknowledge three things that you are grateful for in your life. Keep it simple, fun, and daily. You can keep a gratitude journal, or share your list of three with your partner or a friend. Studies have shown that three-a-day keeps the blues away, and trains your brain to look for the good in your life.

Go outside anyway! Yes, I said it. Get out in the cold! Bundle up and take a 20 minute walk in the cold. You’ll benefit from the movement, the bona fide sunlight (even through the grey skies!), and overcoming your mind-body resistance to the cold.

Be grateful! Just thinking about a few of your favorite things–anything you are grateful for–changes your brain chemistry for the better! If you don’t think so, try it once or twice when you’re feeling down–it will feel like magic! Your mind will calm, your body will relax.

Don’t let feeling SAD get you down this winter! Get up, get moving, and keep yourself looking for the good in every situation! Winter won’t last forever—even though it feels like it—and you’ll be glad you spent it supporting your happiness!

What Is the Glass Ceiling between You and Your Soul?

2015 Lynn Barrette

2015 Lynn Barrette

Usually when we talk about the glass ceiling, we are referring to that organizational block that keeps us from moving up the hierarchy of a company. But have you ever noticed a glass ceiling on your life’s journey? Have you felt a block that stands between you and the fulfillment of your heart’s desire?

Similarly to a dead end job, our inner glass ceiling can make us feel hopeless, helpless, and like the victim of circumstances. The glass ceiling makes us feel it is impenetrable—why should we even bother trying? Yet, there’s something inside of us that keeps reflecting to us those wonderful possibilities! There are always options open to us, if we are willing to look at them—and take action on them—and allow ourselves to be transformed.

When we moved from Kansas to Michigan, I went through a difficult bout of depression. Even though my children were still young, I had been wearing the identity of “stay-at-home mom” for some time. But, it was no longer working for me, and I didn’t know what to do. I couldn’t see any other options—and besides, I loved my family very much, so of course I should feel terribly guilty for not wanting to be home with them all the time, right?

Guilt and shame made up my inner glass ceiling. I shouldn’t be feeling this way, was my daily mantra. I could hear the possibilities on the other side, but I didn’t know how to get there. As I worked on uncovering the solution through journaling and meditation (and the help of my spiritual mentor and an awesome therapist), I realized I had work to do to move beyond that glass ceiling! Finally, I had the divine idea to go back to school and pursue a career as a behavioral health therapist, blending my spiritual education with psychology to support others in the best way I can.

It cost me time and effort. It forced me to move beyond the guilt and shame of being a full time student, a wife, and a mother—having less time with everyone (but still plenty to go around!). I spent many nights working on ten-page papers, feeling guilty for doing that instead of putting my kids to bed. I worried that my beautifully understanding and supportive husband might feel resentful of his new home duties.

I released my stay-at-home mom self using Jane Hart’s “Seven Steps” process—over and over again until I felt adjusted to my new role as a partner to my husband as we parented together in a new way. I said goodbye to the helpless victim in me as I embraced my new responsibilities as a self-employed therapist and business woman.

The thing about any glass ceiling is that it is only made up of a thin veil of doubt and false beliefs—and perhaps a sprinkle of fear and laziness here and there. When we feel ourselves hitting our heads against it, that’s our call to put our courage on and charge ahead!

What is your glass ceiling? Ask yourself, “What calls to me that I don’t believe is possible for me? What keeps me from trying? What do I need to give up in order to make it happen?” Find those answers within yourself, then move on it, one step at a time. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it!

Scratching the Surface of Your Spiritual Growth – Part 3 / Finale

Continuing from my previous post in this three-part series on Scratching the Surface of Spiritual Growth…

sevenstepsebookA powerful forgiveness and resilience tool is Jane Elizabeth Hart’s Seven Steps for Successful Life Transitions. Hart created this method for releasing old patterns, beliefs and other life situations, based on her personal experiences of change, loss and spiritual growth. Each of theSeven Steps deals with an aspect of the situation at hand.  Journaling your responses to each step’s list of questions is suggested, tissues should be on hand, and laughter at some point is a must. (You can access the journaling questions at church or on the Center for Enlightenment website, www.cfenlightenment.org.)

Step one is ‘Gratitude and Acceptance’ and deals with all that you are grateful for in regards to the situation or person at hand.  Write down everything you can think of for which you are grateful.  What joy have these situations brought to you? Sometimes all I can come up with is, “I am grateful for the opportunity to release this [person or situation].”  Don’t worry if you can’t think of anything; simply return to it when you can. 

Step two looks at the ‘Good Times.’  Think of specific situations in the past that have been enjoyable for you regarding this person or situation.  There might be something that keeps bringing you back for more.  Again, skip it if you need to.  

Step three allows you to look at your ‘Hopes and Dreams.’  What do you, or did you, hope will happen?  What have you dreamt that this person or situation would be like?  Get those thoughts from swimming around in your head, creating unnecessary stress! It doesn’t mean that these hopes and wishes will necessarily come true; this is to help you let them go.

Step four deals with those ‘Disappointments and Difficulties.’  Ah, yes, the confrontations, the embarrassments, the arguments, the losses—everything.  What has disappointed you regarding this person or situation? What has been the most difficult thing to deal with? Can you see any unresolved issues within yourself that are surfacing to be healed?

The most important step is the fifth step:  ‘Forgiveness.’  This is how we heal.  Who or what circumstance is the hardest to forgive?  Why?  What does it mean for you if you don’t forgive?  What does it mean for you if you do?  When you can find it in yourself to forgive, you can handle future similar situations or people much better.  Remember, you are not condoning unacceptable behavior through forgiveness; simply accepting that it has happened, and now you have new information with which to make decisions moving forward.

Forgiveness requires a certain leap of faith—whatever yours may be—into a space of allowing another to be what they choose to be without it throwing you off-center.  Forgiveness pulls you out of the mindset that someone can ruin your day by not meeting your expectations; and puts you into a space of compassion and non-resistance toward outrageous behavior in others (and yourself!).  It’s tough, but as you are willing, you add to your inner management abilities.

Finally, ‘Release’ all these in the sixth step, and affirm your ‘Completion’ with the process in step seven.  I like having a ritual for my completion process, sometimes burning my journaling notes, or using Hart’s Seven Step meditation. 

The most important relationship is the one you have with yourself; and when you are okay with yourself, you can be open to better possibilities.  If you get stuck on a situation, be sure to seek further help.  

No matter what has happened in the past, every day opens new doors for you. Your job is to prepare your mind and heart for those opportunities to come forth, not so someone or something will change, but so you can.

Cooperating with the Bigger Picture

My dadI spent two weeks in July helping my dad and mom after my dad had major surgery. I felt grateful enough for being able to be there for them, but the experience of his light and courage topped the experience! My only real job was to cooperate with the bigger picture.

Before I arrived, I prepared myself for my dad to be incapacitated for the whole time I was there, with tubes coming out of him every which way. Indeed, he had a lot to overcome following his successful surgery! But by my second week there—two weeks after his surgery—he was home, walking around, looking and feeling better than he did before the procedure!

My dad’s courage, will, and perseverance shined through him, even on his frustrating days. He took every day in stride, joked with the medical staff, and displayed a positive, stoic determination that wouldn’t have allowed any other outcome!

My job was simple—stay above my own emotions. Fear had no place near him! Being human, of course I experienced it; but there was no space for that around him.

Fortunately, I had already worked my release process—a couple of times before I arrived!—using the “Seven Steps for Moving through Difficulties” formula I talk about all the time. Doing that helped me be less attached to the outcome I wanted—for him to survive and be whole again, even minus an esophagus!

But he is a soul in evolution, and this was his call to make, not mine! I had to get myself out of the way; I had to be prepared for any possible outcome. I released him to his highest good, knowing that whatever the outcome, that was the most efficient route for his soul journey. The most peace I felt was when I was simply in the moment with him, loving and appreciating his soul with no expectations or demands.

There were ups and downs through the process: How much cancer was there? Did they get it all? (They did!) Irregular heartbeat. Infection. Difficulties eating, and so forth. Each time something new arose, I had to be steady and not lose myself in fear, sadness, or hopelessness. Each time I grabbed hold of a faith I didn’t know was there—not a faith in some god that would give me what I wanted. Rather, faith in his beautiful, wise Soul that knew what it was doing—no matter what!

By the time I left, my dad was laughing, eating, walking and enjoying his newfound health! His healing process will continue for a while, but what a great start to that journey!

Where else in my life can I trust the bigger picture rather than my own puny ideas of what should or should not take place? Where in your life can you trust the bigger picture? It is always there! Trust it. Look for it. Let go of your ideas of outcomes and embrace the plan that is in place for the highest good for all concerned. Cooperate with the process!

Scratching the Surface of Your Spiritual Growth, Part 2

Scratch the Surface!

Scratch the Surface!

Last month I wrote about the process for spiritual transformation—which includes any kind of change you are making toward expressing your full potential.

The question now is, “How do I support myself in that process?” It seems that there is always something coming up and pushing you buttons, doesn’t it? People or situations demanding that you get out of your comfort zone, reminding you of that other awful thing that happened, and so forth. What do you do with that? It can seem like those “button-pushers” stand in your way, but you can use them to stretch and grow from the inside out.

There are three levels of processing demands: Observe and Release, the Agitated Energy Process, and Journaling to Go Deeper.

Observe and Release

This first level includes those thoughts or situations that come up and are easily pushed out of our minds. The trick is to be aware of those things—to be conscious of the thoughts that are going through your mind at a given moment. Observing your thoughts helps you to release the ones you don’t need and act on the ones that you do.

For example, if you are working on releasing judgmental thoughts of yourself and others, you would need to be aware of when those judgments arose. Once you are aware of them, you simply notice and release them on the spot, rather than jumping into a conversation about them in your head. No need to chastise yourself nor analyze the thought; you know what it is, you noticed it, you let it go. End of story.

Agitated Energy Process

This next level of processing involves looking more closely at what’s coming up from inside you. I learned the “Agitated Energy Process” from my husband, which he had learned from his mentor at the time, the late psychiatrist Dr. Mary Allen. Over the years I have changed it just a little bit in order to make it more accessible to the people I meet in my practice.

Here is the revised process:

1. When you feel emotion in your body, or simply become aware of surfacing thoughts that you aren’t able to Observe and Release, ask yourself, “What is the emotion that I’m feeling?” Try not to think about the answer; just let it surface. Gently label the emotions that you’re feeling. Is it anger, frustration, sadness, fear, or some variation of these emotions?

2. Next, ask, “What story am I telling myself that’s causing me to feel this way?” Again, don’t think too hard about it, just let the story surface. What is the emotion telling you about the situation at hand?

Using the previous example, let’s say I have been doing very well at not judging myself or others—Observing and Releasing like a pro. After a few days, I notice that one person at home or at work who did that thing to me that I keep judging and cannot seem to stop myself. You know who I’m talking about. If I am NOT able to simply sweep it away, most likely it is causing me to feel agitated, which is how emotions show up in the body. That is my wonderful cue to go deeper! First, I label the emotion. Let’s say in this example it is anger. Then I ask myself, “What story I’m telling myself about the situation?” Let’s pretend that I am telling myself, “That person is trying to make me feel bad about myself, and I don’t like it!” Excellent! I allow that subjective observation to surface, without judgment.

3. The final step is to ask, “What is the new perception I could take that would be calming to me?” Here, I am giving myself the opportunity to look at the situation in a different way.

Let’s say the new perception that arises within me is, “I don’t know what is going on with that person, but my job is to be in charge of myself, what I am feeling and doing.” Then do a quick self check-in and see, “Do I feel calm now?” If so, then, I am done with this process. If not, then I can restart at the first question, and repeat the process until I feel at peace. This is a deceivingly effective on-the-spot processing tool since it doesn’t take an hour of journaling, and you can do it anywhere.

What if that process does not calm you? Then what? Ah, then it’s time to bring out the big guns, which I will address next time. In the meantime, pick one of these levels of processing and practice with it. You’ll be surprised at your mental and emotional clarity throughout the day. Let me know how it goes for you! I would love to hear about your experience!

The Third Option: Opening Yourself to Solutions

There is always a solution.

One of my primary jobs as a therapist and spiritual counselor is to be that objective person who can see what I call the “third option”.

What is the third option?

three flowersThe third option is that other possibility for moving through a tough situation. Perhaps there are several “third options”, but when we are feeling stuck, we tend to see our situation in rigid, black or white terms. For example, someone who feels stuck in his or her career may only be able to see two limiting options: “Stay here and suffer, but at least I’m getting paid,” or, “Quit my job and be unemployed because the economy is so bad.” This is a good time to look for those third options!

Why is the third option so hard to see?

In the above example, you may be able to quickly see that there are certainly other possibilities than those mentioned. But, when we are in the middle of our own stuck place, it can be hard to see third options! Our own circumstances trigger our emotions, which keep us from being able to see other possibilities. Can you guess which emotion is most prominent in our example above? You are correct if you guessed fear. Fear is one of the biggest blind spots we have as human beings. It keeps us from seeing beyond the two walls that feel like they are caving in on us! Fortunately, our fears are seldom accurate; so having an objective viewpoint can help us see other choices that are there, closer than we may perceive.

A close second to fear in why we’re sometimes not able to see the third option is that often they are wrapped up in things we may not want to do—and those might just be the action steps that would support us the most! Let’s face it: Our problems are here to stretch us, and stretching pulls us beyond our current state of flexibility…and comfort. That means that 99.9% of the time, we will have to do something we’d rather not. The plus side is that it often feels great to do just that!

How can we learn to open ourselves to the third option?

When we find ourselves feeling stuck, the first thing we must do is to recognize the potential (and need!) for growth. This will help relieve the worry and fear, and allow us to take a step back from the situation and see the bigger picture.

Next, brainstorm possible solutions. Remember how we learned to brainstorm in elementary school? Everything goes! Write down all those potential solutions, even and especially the silly ones! Have fun trying to think of ways to resolve the situation.  Make sure that list includes those options that you think you would never do. You might just come up with something you would do after all!

Try asking yourself these questions:

  • If I were my best friend, what would I tell him/her to do?
  • Since I can’t control the other person(s) involved, what can I change about what I am doing?
  • Am I waiting for something to magically motivate me to change?
  • If I were run by my soul instead of by my ego, what would my soul tell me to do?

There is always a solution, and we can find it when we step back and look at the bigger picture!