Tag Archive | soul growth

Life Isn’t Solved by a Facebook Post

Did you grow up with platitudes that don’t seem to work in everyday life? Can you recognize them as you scroll through Facebook?

A platitude is a statement, usually with a moral message, that is used so frequently that it loses it’s true meaning.

Even though my family was part of a positive spiritual community, I still grew up with several platitudes that I eventually had to unlearn.

Anytime we receive advice from others, or see an inspiring message on social media, we need to still run it through our intuition: Is this right for me? Will it help me resolve and move forward from my present circumstance?

What platitudes have you evaluated and found to work only in certain circumstances?

Thanks for watching!
Lynn

P.S. You might also enjoy Discernment versus Judgment!

http://www.dynamiccounseling.info
https://www.facebook.com/dynamiccounseling/

Advertisements

Take Time Apart

804972302Lately there has been much talk about how busy our lives are, the pull of technology, and the practice of connecting online more than in person.

Yet there is another practice that is emerging in the midst of busyness–electronic or otherwise: Realizing the importance of taking time away from it all! Meditation, yoga, sitting by the beach, and other forms of quiet time are finding their way into many people’s routine.

Sometimes clients share their involved story with me, then say, “I just don’t feel I am handling it well.” In most cases, they are handling the situation beautifully, but forgetting to handle themselves as conscientiously as the other people and events. I will gently reflect that perhaps instead of needing to do more, it is time to do less, to take time apart from the situation and renew themselves. Often this helps them see a situation anew.

What are some ways you renew yourself? Having a list of three or four things can help your renewal time feel fresh. Other people like their standby of one or two activities (or inactivities!). Taking a walk, listening to music, relaxing in a hammock, reading a book are other ways to take a vacation from busyness for a while.

I love riding my bike around a lake near our house. Biking has always been a refreshing activity for me—feeling the wind cooling me as I ride, looking at natural surroundings or pretty neighborhoods, and enjoying the exercise-induced invigoration when I’m done. My favorite trail is Busse Woods, passing the elk as I ride; but even shorter rides near home can feel like I was gone for hours!

If these activities still seem too time-consuming in your busy day, try taking two minutes two or three times throughout your day to breathe. Stop what you are doing and do some diaphragmatic breathing—breathing from your belly—in and out for two minutes. Try it right now…Refreshing, right?

There is always time to take time apart–and there is always the need to do so!

Look Who’s Talking Now

Stick Snake

A root I encountered which my mind reacted to as if it were a snake. Our minds are not always reliable upon first response!

At any given moment, there is a voice talking to you in your head. Maybe it’s a positive voice. Maybe it’s a negative voice. Maybe it’s a neutral, narrator, commenting on your every move. Do you notice it? It’s processing as you read this, maybe throwing in an opinion or two. What do you find it is saying to you right now?

That voice can be likened to the weather in the Midwest: If you don’t like it, wait five minutes and it will change.

To understand why this is so, let’s define a couple things. Your brain is the organ through that functions as the machine for many physical functions, thinking being only one of them. Your mind is how your consciousness moves energy through the brain in order to function in your life.

Your brain stores every experience you have had, ever, and the thoughts, decisions, attitudes, emotions, and opinions surrounding those experiences at the time that you made them. Some of those are well-outdated, yet there they are, in the storehouse of your brain’s memory.

Your mind, in its automatic, semi-conscious state, pulls up those memories, thoughts, decisions, attitudes, emotions, and opinions as it sees fit. In neutral times, those thoughts, etc, might be simply random. Other times, the mind is quite certain that the thought, emotion, opinion, etc, that it is pulling up is quite fitting for the situation at hand, even if it might not be helpful.

For example, think about what you think about while driving. Maybe you’re singing along with a song (lyrics pulled up from your brain’s memory). Maybe you are worrying about what just happened at work or with that family member; in which case, all past experiences, opinions, emotions having to do with that person, or someone very similar from your history, come up and invade your thoughts about the current situation. This adds confusion to the current situation: Are you really upset at the thing that just happened, or is that thing not so bad, but it is reminding you of that other thing that happened, so the negative thoughts and strong emotion are actually coming from some previous experience, being dumped onto the current one? Probably both, but the current situation is getting the brunt of the past, unresolved emotion.

That little example holds about five topics of discussion; but for this article, let’s simply understand that the mind has a mind of its own, and a lot more is going on than you are often aware of.  In fact, there are many voices in your head, and often they have competing opinions and perspectives! You’ve probably heard someone say, “The committee in my head is arguing about this.”

What can you do about that mind that can be so unruly?

Notice it, step back from it, wait a few minutes and it will change.

Notice it. You can’t be in charge of that unruly inner voice unless you are aware of what it’s doing in there. Take a few breaks during the day to check in and listen to what it’s saying to you. Is it positive? Critical? Sad? Afraid? Numb?

Step back from it. Listen with compassion and non-judgment; be the observer of it. Cup both hands together and hold them in front of you. Pretend that the thoughts and feelings going through your mind are in your cupped hands. Since they are now outside of your head, watch them like a scientist watches her experiment with curiosity, not knowing what exactly is going to happen. What do you see happening with those thoughts and feelings?

Wait a few minutes and it will change. As you observe the contents of your mind, they will inevitably shift and change. See how long you can hold them before they morph into something else. How long does it take? Five minutes? Twenty? Three? One? This is a great practice in not taking your thoughts too seriously. Just because it is wafting through your mind doesn’t make it true.

This simple process is helpful especially when big emotions are on the surface. As you observe and wait patiently and compassionately through the wave of emotional dialogue and felt sensations, you will feel yourself rise above it into a clearer thinking space. As you practice with this, your conscious self moves into more of a leadership role in the mind/brain process. You can be more in charge of who’s talking to you, who gets the promotion, and which voice gets phased out.

Who’s talking within you?

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!

Scratching the Surface of Your Spiritual Growth – Part 1

processIf you have become weary of the “positive thinking” aspect of spirituality, then you might be ready to go a bit deeper.

Not to say there is anything wrong with positive thinking—it’s an important tool along the journey!

But it’s not the entire toolbox, as you may have noticed. It can help uplift you in a moment of negative thinking, but it does not necessarily get to the cause of that faulty thinking in the first place.

Our spiritual process is one of in-depth self-exploration and self-understanding. We have to be willing to find out the answers to “Why am I feeling this way? Why is this triggering me? Why am I doing the same thing over and over again, when I know it’s not good for me?” Sometimes we have to do a little digging to understand that process.

The process of self-discovery is systematic; it has a consistent formula. Once you get into the rhythm of it, you understand where you are at, and what to do about it. Here is how I describe that process:

1. Spiritual Commitment: What is your current commitment you are making to your spiritual discovery? Have you committed to a daily meditation practice? To be less judgmental? To forgive someone? Any commitment that supports the expanding of your mind, heart, and intuitive nature will do.

2. New Energy: Any time we make a spiritual commitment, the Infinite Universe responds by filling us with energy to support our commitment! That can show up as ideas and insights for accomplishing your commitment. It usually feels so refreshing and inspiring…for about three or four days…maybe weeks, depending on your commitment. Then what happens is…

3. Second Force: This is an arbitrary form for all the excuses that come up, working hard to keep us from continuing with our commitment! It’s not some sort of evil force—it’s the part of us that resists change. When we have been used to doing things a certain way for years (perhaps lifetimes!), we have created a pathway in our consciousness that has become what we do when we’re on automatic pilot. Simply, it has become a habit. This is where many people give up on their commitment, believing it’s “too hard” or no longer “feels right” to do. And, this is where we have to turn up our grit and keep our commitment!

4. Healing and Release: This is where our spiritual toolbox comes in handy! Make sure yours includes a forgiveness process, an emotional awareness tool, a journal, meditation time, and mindfulness of your thoughts and feelings throughout the day. I will write more about this next time. This is the active work step, and the most important part of the process!

5. New Awareness: This is when we have released what we needed to, pushed through the old habit, and created a new one—a new perspective, a new awareness, a newly expanded consciousness of Self! We can’t go back and see the world as we did before—we have new glasses on! This also strengthens our inner connection (through our hard work from the previous step!) and intuition. This is a passive step, in that it happens through us because we did our work. We just receive!

6. Next Spiritual Step: This is where we grab hold of our next Spiritual Commitment, and start the process over with a new focus, and new energy to support us through it!

Next month, I will go into some excellent tools for our spiritual toolbox so we’ll be prepared for that Healing and Release step! Think about this process this month. How has it shown up for you?

Journaling to Support Your Soul’s Evolution

Journaling is a tool that is always on hand!

Process journaling is a tool I often use—and support my clients in using—even though most of us (myself included!) don’t like taking the time to do it. And it does take time and effort! But so does brushing our teeth every day, but we (hopefully) find time to do that twice a day. Just as brushing teeth is an important part of our physical hygiene, journaling as part of our emotional, mental and spiritual hygiene just makes sense.

Journaling’s benefits include helping you to get out of your head (versus letting thoughts spin around in the hamster wheel of your mind); allowing you to better focus on the facts of a situation, versus the emotional content and potential projections by you or another; and helping you attune to your own intuition by letting out the clutter and listening for what remains.

Unless you’re excited about writing a little every day (and a rare one you are, if that’s true for you!), when is it a good time to journal? Besides “anytime” as the best answer, other times include when you:
• Have a question about what to do
• Have been triggered by a person or situation
• Had a dream that stood out to you
• Need help prioritizing your day
• Need to forgive
• Wand to understand a character trait/pattern in yourself
• Want to understand a character trait/pattern in someone else that drives you crazy (why?)
• Your mind is racing and you don’t know what to do

Building writing time into your schedule, making it a priority in your life, is a must for serious spiritual seekers wanting to learn more about who they are. Here are some tips for setting up a writing practice:

1. Have two journals: One for processing with pages you can tear out and burn, shred, recycle; one for recording your insight, understandings, intuitions.

2. Ask a question about the subject, and write your answer. For example:*
a. What emotions am I feeling?
b. Who or what pushed my buttons? Who was upsetting me today?
c. Does this always happen to me? Is this a pattern in my life?
d. When has this happened to me before?
e. If I was guided by my soul, rather than being run by my ego, how would I handle things differently?

3. Did you receive your answer? You may not right away. Set aside your journal for now. Resume tomorrow.

Whether you prefer using a phone app, keyboard, or good, old-fashioned pen and paper, writing down your insights each day is guaranteed to support your awakening. Taking time to write will help you assimilate new understandings, support the changes you want to make, and help you remove blocks to reaching your spiritual goals.

*Questions partially modified from Jane Elizabeth Hart’s amazing little book, Spiritual Power Tools: Support for Your Soul, © 2004, 2009.