Tag Archive | self love

Finding Yourself in Transition

Have you ever found yourself in transition?

Let’s break this down: How you ever found yourself in a transition that you chose? Have you ever found yourself in a transition that you didn’t choose?

Those can feel a lot harder, can’t they? Transitions we choose can sometimes feel exciting, empowering, refreshing. But if we didn’t choose it, it can feel like the rug got pulled out from under us. Those can also be the best spiritual lessons ever!

Chris Chenoweth, who has spoken here in the past and was the minister at Unity Village Chapel for years, called these kind of lessons “Blessons” because they were both blessings and lessons all in one topsy-turvy package.

I recently moved from an apartment to a house with my son, and it’s been a whole bunch of blessons left and right and it’s been a great time!

While I was packing, I somehow managed to pack all of my coffee filters two weeks before my move, or at least I thought I did. And let me tell you why this is a big deal. I’m the person who sets up the coffee the night before so all I have to do in the morning is push a button because when I mess around with ground coffee before my coffee, I end up making a mess all over the place. That’s the kind of morning person I am. I’m cheery and pleasant, just don’t ask me to make any major life decisions before at least half a cup of coffee.

I was packing and taping boxes together with a tape gun. You know those large tape dispensers that get the job done fast? I’m taping up boxes and somehow I pick up this tape dispenser by the sharp edge and poke a couple holes in my finger. So now I’m bleeding everywhere, and do you know what else I packed?

No, I hadn’t packed my Band-Aids because I hadn’t gotten to the bathroom yet. The things I barely use, like Band-aids, were right where I needed them in the moment; while the things I use every day, like coffee filters, were packed in a taped-up box somewhere. So, lucky me, right? The Universe was watching out for me that day, right?

Yes, so I bandage up my finger, not because it was a bad wound, but because I didn’t want to bleed all over everything as I was boxing things up. So I bandage my finger and I’m finishing boxing up the kitchen, and guess what I found? More coffee filters. Doh!

So why am I telling you all of this silly stuff? Because things can be topsy turvy in times of transitions! That’s part of the fun!

St. Francis advised his followers to“wear the world like a loose garment,” What he meant was that in order to be free, you need to be in the world without being attached to how it hangs on you.

Transitions, times of change, are those times when we are pushed to hang more loosely, loosen our grip on what we thought was solid ground, because there is no permanent solid ground in life! Things are always changing, and if one thing in your life isn’t changing now, just stick around–it will!

Wear the world like a loose garment. Jesus demonstrated being in the world but not of the world. That’s not so hard when it’s a simple move and we’re talking about coffee filters, but what about losing a job, or a loved one, or a minister, or a house in a hurricane?

I learned from my meditation teacher, Jane Elizabeth Hart, to manage change with grace and wisdom. She taught me about her “Seven Steps” process soon after I first met her 25 years ago, right before I got married because it was a big life transition, and the whole title of the original Seven Step process is “Seven Steps for Moving through Life Transitions.” That’s exactly what it’s for!

It came to her in a vision when her mom passed. She was grieving and didn’t know what to do. She saw these Seven Steps and the different facets of a grieving process: Gratitude, Good Times, Hopes and Dreams, Disappointments and Difficulties, Forgiveness, Release, and Completion. She knew she had to work those steps, too, so she journaled them and was able to move forward after losing that outer connection with her mother.

Over the many years or working with this process, for changes big and seemingly little, I learned that embracing any change is part of life, and it is possible to flow with it, even when you puncture yourself with a tape gun!

In my therapy practice, I share the “Seven Steps” all the time because it’s a great tool for working through all the emotions and confusion that come up during times of change. Doing this work does, indeed, make the crooked road straight! So I share it with everyone I possibly can, as often as I can!

Whenever we have something in our life that we have invested time and energy into, it becomes part of who we are; be it a relationship, a home, a car, a job, anything! When something becomes part of our identity, it’s a garment that we’re wearing. When it’s time to change, we need to take it off the old garment, appreciate all its aspects, then let it go, so we’re ready to put on the new and improved garment of the next scene in our play.

Anytime I’ve ever moved, I’ve taken the place I was moving from up those “Seven Steps” in order to release the attachment and emotion from the current situation so that I’m walking into my new circumstances as clear and open as I possibly can. Before I started packing my coffee filters prematurely, I took my condo up the “Seven Steps” to let it go and move forward.

Our road is clearer when we aren’t taking our emotions, positive and negative, into our new situation. But we have to do our part on that.

I don’t always quote the Bible in talks—I usually leave that to the professionals—but when I do, it’s because a quote or a story has stood out to me and meant something significant to me over the years.

One story that I both love and resist (and you’ll find out why shortly), is Jesus’ parable about the ten virgins:

The Parable of the Ten Virgins (NIV)

1“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.

6“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’

7“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’

9“ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’

10“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.

11“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’

12“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’

13“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

Why do I resist that? Because it’s a great story about being prepared for the next step that’s coming, and that means work on my part, and I’m human, so I resist that! Isn’t there enough work to be done during a transition? Why would I put myself through more work?

Because, like the women in this parable, we have to be prepared for our next step. If we’re not clearing the way for that step to happen as seamlessly as possible, we could end up missing something very important—like making our transition much easier on ourselves!

What’s one thing we can be fairly certain of in times of transition? Uncertainty! We’re moving from one thing to the next, and we have only an imaginary idea of what’s coming, based on the little information that we have.

In times of transition there is so much going on already, why would we want our emotional baggage to interfere and put a hindrance there that isn’t necessary? Why do that to ourselves instead of doing what I call the “front-end maintenance” of the spiritual/emotional/mental work of releasing the old and preparing for the new?

Right now, think of a life transition that may be coming in the future, maybe a making job change, getting a new car, moving to a new home, perhaps someone in your life is preparing for a life transition that will take them out of your life somehow. What in your life needs releasing? What garment needs to be worn more loosely, or replaced altogether?

Use the “Seven Steps” or some other conscious, thorough release process to let it go so that you can walk forward free and clear. Then when you prematurely pack your coffee filters, it’s no big deal! You can adjust and keep moving forward!

 

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Note: This is not a verbatim transcription of the talk. In preparing for a talk, one often prepares far more than needed, and remembers far less than desired. At least, that’s true for me. So this “article” is based on my rough notes before the talk, which is not exactly how the talk went. But, I’m a busy professional, so this is the least time-intensive thing I could post with the video.  I hope you enjoy it!

Here are other ways to connect with me:

http://www.chicagobrainspotting.com

https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCiPZRbreVv-QYhu5NlWsq3Q 

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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!

How Meditation Supports Your Soul Evolution — Part 2: How Do I Meditate?

Now that you are excited about the benefits you will receive from an ongoing meditation practice, the next step is to begin making part of your daily routine. Here’s step-by-step support for your budding meditation practice:

1. Make a commitment to yourself. Five minutes a day? Ten? Thirty? One hour? Commit to a meditation practice, no matter what daily quantity, for three months; then decide if you like it or not.

2. Choose your meditation space. Make it nurturing, comfortable, simple, relaxing, and peaceful. Use this same space each time you meditate.

3. Choose your meditation time. Meditating at the same time every day builds an automatic response into your mind and body. Your whole self begins to cooperate when you sit down for your time!

4. Find a spiritual symbol that resonates with you. Why? A symbol that is steeped in tradition or meaning for you will magnetize your innate spirituality.

5. Find a methodology that works best for you. Try a few of these to find out your own meditation style preference:

a. Perhaps a guided meditation would help keep you focused. There are CDs, mp3 recordings, YouTube videos, and even smartphone aps with all sorts of guided meditations. Find two or three that you like so you can use them interchangeably.

b. Centering prayer is a wonderful tool for a busy mind! Take a prayer that resonates with you, and recite it slowly to help you quiet your mind. Repeat slowly and sincerely throughout your time.

c. Mindfulness is the practice of observing your thoughts, feelings, body sensations, and breath, with detachment, non-judgment, and compassion. Being present with what is, without having a conversation about it in your head, is an excellent and very portable meditation practice.

d. Visualization is a method often found in guided meditations, but you can create your own. Imagine yourself spreading out of your body, filling the room you are in, then stretching through your whole house, then neighborhood, then city, then state, then country, then throughout the entire planet, then universe! Sit in that expanded state without inner comment.

e. Group meditation is a great way to keep your commitment to yourself. Although it may not be feasible to meditate with a group every day, once a week—or even once or twice a month—has great value. You receive a vibration boost from others when everyone is generating energy for the common purpose of meditation.

6. Keep a journal. Meditation is going to awaken you to new ideas, experiences, and insights. Writing them down helps assimilate those new understandings into your consciousness.

7. Practice every day, no matter what! Some days, your meditation will feel extraordinary, or maybe it won’t. Either way, trust that something is happening, even if you aren’t consciously aware of it. Go back and remind yourself of the benefits of your practice. Let it be okay that you don’t feel enlightened at the end of your first month. Meditation is like brushing your teeth—you just gotta keep doing it for the best results!

Now give it a try! You will be grateful that you gave yourself this gift of a meditative life!

Sherlock Your Changes

The Easter energy of Spring brings new life, and new life brings changes!

Change happens. Sometimes we change because we want to; sometimes we change because we have to. When dealing with a change that is out of our control, one of the best approaches is to Sherlock it.

“My name is Sherlock Holmes.
It is my business to know what other people don’t know.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Blue Carbuncle

You know Sherlock. He’s the odd, people-challenged character who sure knew how to solve mysteries. Don’t some changes feel like mysteries to you?

Recently, my favorite yogurt brand changed the consistency, flavor and protein content of their product, and I wasn’t happy! I will use this silly example to walk you through the process of moving through a change that is out of your control so you can get a feel for the process. If it can work with yogurt, maybe it will transfer to any bigger change you may be dealing with!

“…[W]hen a fact appears to be opposed to a long train of deductions it invariably proves to be capable of bearing some other interpretation.”
Sherlock Holmes, A Study in Scarlet

1. What is the change that is happening around you? Describe the facts. What exactly is different?

This company changed the protein content of my favorite yogurt went from 15 grams of protein down to 12! Plus, the consistency is more watery, and the flavor tastes watered down as well, but it’s cheaper!

2. Now you get to expand a little. How do you feel about this change? Are you angry, afraid, sad, or frustrated? Let it out, and include why you are feeling the way you do about this change.

I feel really disappointed about this. I counted on those 15 grams of protein in the mornings when I didn’t have time for a larger breakfast. I would eat it at work as well, but now it isn’t satisfying as it was before. I don’t understand why they made these changes, and I feel angry. I feel especially frustrated because the only other comparable yogurt is at a grocery store that is inconveniently located!

3. What about this change is in your control? What about it is out of your control? (Keep to the facts here, too!)

I can control whether or not I continue to purchase this brand of yogurt. I don’t have control over how it is made. I can write an email to the company, voicing my dissatisfaction, but I can’t control whether or not they do anything about my dissatisfaction, either.

4. What would be the best way for you to manage this change? What steps are you willing to take to make the necessary adjustments?

I can consider other options, such as trying a different brand of yogurt, or making the trek to the other grocery store. I can also find other sources of quick proteins for my food intake needs, like protein bars.

“Eliminate all other factors, and the one which remains must be the truth.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Sign of Four

Now it’s up to you what you decide to do. You can always choose to continue with emotional responses, such as disappointment, anger, frustration, sadness. If that’s the route you take, be sure to also answer this question: “For what good purpose would it serve for me to continue feeling (frustrated, sad, angry, hurt, etc) about this change?” That can be an eye-opener, and can lead to your choosing not to hold on to that reaction any longer than you need to.

“What object is served by this circle of misery and violence and fear? It must tend to some end, or else our universe is ruled by chance, which is unthinkable.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Cardboard Box

When you have completed the process and made your adjustments, kick back like Sherlock (or perhaps in your own, healthier way) and feel good about solving the mystery of change.

“Let me run over the principal steps. We approached the case, you remember, with an absolutely blank mind, which is always an advantage. We had formed no theories. We were simply there to observe and to draw inferences from our observations.”
Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the Cardboard Box

Don’t Judge. Ask, “What Is Mine to Do?”

Over the years of practicing therapy, as well as doing my own inner work, I have noticed an overlooked problem about judging others: It causes us to keep ourselves in a box.

We have all heard reasons for not to judging others: “Judge not, or you will be judged.” “Judging keeps you in negative thinking.” “Judging is bad karma.” And we certainly know that judging others keeps them in a box.

Overlooked are the limitations we put on ourselves when we judge others. When we think toward someone, “You’re doing it wrong,” or some such variation, we are also setting a guideline for ourselves.

Returning to a personal story I shared in my previous post, before our son was born, I had many judgments of doctors, hospitals, and of all of western medicine’s views on childbirth. When my inner guidance came that I would need to have his birth in a hospital rather than at home as we did with our first child, I felt afraid. “Something terrible must be coming”, I thought to myself, “or why would God ever want me to do such a horrible thing as to have a baby in a hospital?”  I came face to face with the wall of judgments I had built around the medical field.

After nearly 18 months of processing the layers of these judgments (that caused all the fear I was holding), I was able to get to the bottom line: The only thing that mattered was the safety of this soul coming into this world. When that was my goal, I was completely open to whatever way that had to happen.

After our son was born, easily and healthily in the cocoon of the hospital, I could not return to my old way of thinking. I had a new perspective on childbirth: The important thing is safety and the comfort of the one giving birth. Whatever that looks like to the individual is the right and perfect way to do it! Not only did I let every mother on the planet out of a tight and rigid box, I let myself out as well and now can apply this lesson to other judgments I erroneously hold.

We don’t always know what the perfect thing is for someone else, but we can know what is right for ourselves–and sometimes that means doing something we would think someone else shouldn’t be doing!

When you catch yourself having an opinion about another person or their actions, ask yourself, “How is this helpful to this person? Am I putting myself in a box by this thought?” We can free ourselves and others by checking our judgments, and leaving our options open as to what will be the right thing to do in a given situation. This reminds me of a poem my husband has shared with me, written by a friend of his:

Image

Caged bird,
Fly free!
Cage, bird, liberator–
I am all three!

Think about it, and free yourself!