Broaching the Threshold

Broaching the Threshold

Reaching out from my world to yours

Just a beginner offering some space for you to enter in to. I promise that I will stay present.

I come in peace.

How I yearn to connect. How little courage I have to cross that line.

Inability? Or maybe just fear of traveling into unknown territory

Will you scalp me, torture me, or just destroy me on sight?

Will you fool me, blame me or just kiss me goodnight?

Just for today, let’s take a risk and broach the threshold

If I do, will you?

 

© 2020 Amy Sullivan

 

The Fear Experiment

If you have anxiety, this practice is for you!

Last week I decided that I was going to dedicate a whole day to acknowledging my fear. Every time I had any inkling that fear was coming up, I would dive deeper into the feeling and let it develop. Admittedly, I have developed many deep seated and effective behaviors and mind games precisely designed to divert my attention away from fear, so it wasn’t easy. Since childhood, I have always been on the anxious side, and, in many ways,  my career as a therapist has been a pursuit of methods and practices to calm the mind and relax the body. After reading the bestseller, Untamed, by Glennon Doyle, however, I was encouraged to face my fear. Glennon Doyle suffers from bi-polar disorder, and this has become an essential practice for her to maintain her sanity. “I resurrect myself every day, in every moment that I allow myself to feel and become. It’s my daily reminder to let myself burn to ashes and rise, new.”

You’ve probably heard the expression that everything is either love or fear. Since I am interested in creating more love in my life, that notion became my guide. Any thought fullsizeoutput_9f4or behavior that was not loving was a signal to let the fear into my awareness and stay with it as long as possible. The first time I tried it, my attention was drawn to an area of chronic pain in my hip. I stayed with it, and a memory surfaced from my 20s, when I was terrified walking to my car after evening seminars at graduate school. There was a news story at the time about the Night Stalker, who had raped and killed many women. I would have one of my keys ready to defend myself just in case I got attacked. Letting go of all that built up fear was intense, but very rewarding because as I did, I simultaneously felt a great sense of expansiveness and aliveness move into the old contracted tension in my body. Now I make sure to check in with my hip every so often, and consciously release any holding in that area.

The Fear Experiment – If You Dare

Set aside some time and a place where you will not be disturbed for 30-60 minutes. It is important to create a safe and sacred container by lighting a candle or burning incense. Ask your higher self or spiritual guides to be present with you as you go inside, and drop into a space of allowing your fear to be present with you. Start breathing deeply and melting and relaxing into the experience. Open yourself up to feeling whatever you feel, and sensing whatever you sense. Then… simply notice where your attention goes.

When you have had enough, bring your awareness back into the present and write down what you experienced. You can also dance, sing, or make some art about it as the arts are very effective for moving and processing old energy.

And let me know what happens!

In the words of James Hollis, PhD., “The current crisis presents an enormous opportunity for encountering oneself and granting ourselves permission to really own our own lives – if we can bear it.”

 

 

 

Remember to Breathe on the Way to the New World Order

Can you feel it? The beginning stages of a New World order are starting to take root. As a modern day mystic, I want to impart that while you are out there making systemic changes and saving the world, don’t forget to take some time to breathe deeply.

Those of you who know me, know that, as a modern day mystic, I like to shine the light in the darkness and take a look at any shadows lurking in the corners. Instead of trying to just get rid of symptoms, I like to first bring awareness to the illness or dis-ease, which, in turn, brings in the healing. Of course, people want the symptom to go away, but often the symptom is doing its best to show us where the imbalance is. Naturally, we want the coronavirus to go away. We want racial injustice to go away. But what I am wondering is – Is there some important metaphor or message we are missing with the current symptoms in America? What might be the meaning behind these dis-eases (physical, racial and economic) we are plagued with in our nation.

Hearing people during the protests chant “I can’t breathe” together with the fact that so many people need to go on ventilators because the coronavirus attacks the lungs, it dawned on me that perhaps we, as a nation, are not really breathing very well. One of the first signs of having contracted the virus is that blood oxygen levels go way down. Are we collectively not getting enough oxygen?

Crazy talk? Maybe, but, seriously, are you getting enough oxygen? There is plenty to go around, and you really can’t live without it! 😉 Some signs that you may not be img_2603-version-2getting enough oxygen are: low energy, overthinking, panic, anxiety, depression, forgetfulness, irritability. Conscious breathing is the fastest, easiest and most readily available way to significantly impact your energy, your wellbeing and your mental health.

First of all, it’s important to turn your attention from what is going on outside to what is going on inside right now. When you are predominantly focused on what is outside, your breath tends to be shallow and fast. Drop from the thinking and doing mind down into the body. How are you feeling right now? I mean really feeling. What is going on inside? Inside your chest, your belly, your throat? Is there any constriction, pain, tension, sadness, restlessness? Where? What kind? What is that all about? You don’t have to change it or try to make it go away. Just be with the sensations as they are. For instance, I am feeling tension around my eyes and some sadness in my heart.

You may find your breath starting to expand naturally, because the simple practice of  shifting our focus inward invites the breath to open up and become slower, deeper, and more regular. Keep inviting the breath to expand.

Inhale deeply through the nose into the belly and chest 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Exhale with a haaaaa sound through the mouth 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

As you breathe in deeply, you are pulling oxygen into the body with your diaphragm, and then when you exhale, the diaphragm releases and shoots oxygen out into every cell in your body. Can you feel the effects of increased oxygen coursing through your blood stream and pulsating through your body? 

Now you are ready to add your contribution to the New World order.

 

 

 

As “One of the Amys of the World”

A big thank you to all those who are exercising their rights and protesting peacefully. It is a challenge to stay calm and centered when our collective nervous systems are getting over-activated from a constant barrage of intensity piled up on top of more intensity.

We are all getting confronted with our own vulnerability on so many levels, and it can be hard to find any semblance of safety in our lives. When the amygdala, the part of the brain that sounds the alarm system, gets activated, you can’t think. The survival mechanism is designed to help us fight, flee or freeze, and thinking essentially gets shut down. This happens to me every time I go to the grocery store. Anticipatory thoughts of germs, long lines and scarcity put me into an activated state before I even get there, and then, once I’m there, armed with all my protective gear, I literally can’t think. I can’t remember what I came in there for. Checking my list is little help, because I have trouble reading and even understanding what I’m reading. One day I pulled out a list I had written, and I had this strange dissociated feeling, questioning if I had even written it.

I am so grateful for those brave souls like Christian Cooper, who can keep their heads long enough to make videos witnessing events that provide us with evidence of what is really going on. He’s the Black birder in Central Park, who videotaped Amy Cooper, threatening to call the police on him because he asked her to put her dog on the leash. IMG_0526And Oscar nomination to Amy Cooper for playing the role of privileged white person so beautifully! The arrogance, entitlement, disrespect, and abuse of power could not have been more accurately portrayed. (Even the poor dog got caught in the drama.)

Is it coincidence that they have the same last names? Or some preordained cosmic dance that was destined for center stage? Is it coincidence that my name is Amy, and I am a privileged white person? I guess that makes me “one of the Amys of the world?”

As “one of the Amys of the world,” I suddenly feel exposed, and vulnerable. But instead of going into fight or flight, or trying to defend myself, I would like to take a moment and just be with all the implications of the reality of this moment. Please give me (us) a moment to just take a breath and fully feel all the helplessness, powerlessness, guilt and heartache of this moment. It is immense.

…………….

As “one of the Amys of the world,” I would like to extend an apology from myself and my ancestors who have wittingly and unwittingly used our privilege to subject others to abuse, fear, threat, shame, slavery, control, incarceration, humiliation, impoverishment, hardship, death, disempowerment, injustice, wrongful accusation, blame, assault, etc. I am truly sorry that we have perpetrated and created a legacy of trauma that has caused so much pain and suffering especially for people of color.

I realize that this apology may be just a drop in the bucket.

Even still, may cumulative drops of mercy create a big gulp of thirst-quenching redemption over time.

And may we abide in witness consciousness long enough to realize that our intention is to live together as One in peaceful harmony.

All images are the property of Amy Sullivan ©2020

How to Connect If You Don’t Do Zoom

I really feel for teens and young adults these days. Suicide rates are up in those populations, and I can understand why. I can remember when I was in my late teens and got stuck at home with my dysfunctional family for a summer. I was bored out of my skull even though I was taking a couple of classes, and felt this deep longing to connect, but I didn’t know how. I did connect with the refrigerator that summer, paying it a visit every hour each day. I recall being grateful for some stretchy shorts I somehow got ahold of that would neatly accommodate my ever expanding hips.

Full disclosure – I am somewhat of an introvert with depressive tendencies (AKA an empath or sensitive), so reaching out has always been difficult for me. I do have many dear friends that tolerate my eccentricities, but sooner or later they start coaxing me to join some Zoom class or another. If I give them an excuse, they persist because it works for them. One size doesn’t fit all, however!

So is it hopeless for people such as myself to connect especially during these times of social and physical distancing?

What I have come to discover over the years, as I developed spiritually, is that I can connect with the unseen world in non-ordinary reality or what the Aborigines call Thefullsizerender Dreamtime. The Dreamtime is where you expand your awareness beyond your mind, and your physical body, and then energetically connect with the living energies that surround us. According to this practice, everything, even inanimate objects, are alive with energy or spirit, and you can relate to them if you open yourself up to this world beyond the veil. All it takes is your conscious intention. No pixie dust or mind altering substances required. Let me teach you a method I use called Flipping the Switch.

Flipping the Switch

You can do this anywhere, but a good place to start is out in nature. First thing to do is to address this other reality, and ask for some guidance. You might say:

“All That Is – Please show me what I need to know to better cope right now?” After that you move your hand in a gesture like you are switching on a light, take a deep breath and relax. Now you just go about your business and notice what shows up. Sooner or later you will be surprised to hear a bird calling out to you, or a lizard stop you dead in your tracks, or see a face in a rock. The next step is to stop, and take a moment to get quiet and BE with the presence that is showing itself to you. What is the message that it wants to convey to you today? Resist the tendency to speak for it presumptuously. “Oh, butterflies symbolize change. I must be going through some changes now.” Let the information exchange unfold by observing and noticing what is happening in the present moment.

And let me know how it goes! Many blessings of love and connection along the trail.

All images are copyrighted by Amy Sullivan ©2020

 

The Opposite of Fear

I have been wanting to write about fear since the advent of this new era, because one of the consequences of being in a pandemic is that we are simultaneously experiencing an epidemic of fear. I have such compassion for those who are really suffering right now. There’s no other way to put it ~ just plain old suffering. A lot of tasty cliches have been popping into my head like FEAR = face everything and relax. Or FEAR = false evidence appearing real. And the good old ~ there is nothing to fear but fear itself. Somehow they just seem trite in the face of a pandemic.

As I sat here riding my comfy couch listening to Cloudscapes (a Hemi Sync CD from the Monroe Institute), I decided to sink in a little deeper and see what might show up. I started out by contemplating ~ What is the opposite of fear? For me today what came fullsizeoutput_421up was trust. (It may be different for you, so just go with whatever comes up for you.) Sinking down a little deeper, I could feel the resistance to the whole thought-feeling-body sensation experience of trust. The resistance comes from the current reality that the present moment is most probably fraught with tons of unanswered questions, insecurities and unknowns. The present moment is inherently and excruciatingly uncomfortable!

So then the task becomes to ever-so gently, bit by bit, soften, melt and dip our toe into that space of the present moment.

Breathing… and relaxing… and letting go… and feeling….

Feeling may be the most difficult challenge of all. Who wants to feel what’s happening right now? Not feeling is actually a good coping skill for times of trauma. The idea is to just stay numb and maybe even leave your body until the trauma has passed. In addition to that, thinking about the future is also very seductive. It’s a bad habit to get into, however,  because, then, when you get to that time in the future, you have lost your ability to BE in the present moment.

I read a quote by Eckhart Tolle today that succinctly expresses this very notion and might help turn things around a bit. “Stress is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there.'” So when you are future tripping, you are also causing yourself stress!

So, dear ones, I want to encourage you to take some time for yourself to just sit with this question – What is the opposite of fear? – and notice whatever you notice. Please feel free to comment and share what comes up for you.

Many blessings of peace and serenity along the trail! 

All images are copyrighted by Amy Sullivan ©2020

 

Don’t Try And Make Yourself Happy

On my walk today, I found myself trying to convince myself how fortunate I am, and how happy I must feel. The only problem was I wasn’t feeling very happy. I had just made some really big changes in my life, and I was trying to congratulate myself on how well I had navigated some very grown up decisions and interactions. But again I wasn’t having it.

It reminded me of when my kids were little and my son would be sad, and I would send my daughter to his room to try and cheer him up. Okay. Not good parenting, I admit. But it’s awfully tempting to just try the bypass. Sometimes it does work, and it’s a lot easier than the alternative, which is really tuning in to your loved one and listening with unconditional love and an empathetic ear, especially if you are the reason they are upset.

Back to my walk, I decided to take a detour from the trail to a grassy spot where I couldIMG_0547 just lie down and relax. I found a sunny outcropping with some shade for my face and settled into the soft green grass. As soon as I did, I realized how tired I was from all the exertion lately in my life. Then I noticed that my stomach was gassy from the tasty chili I had devoured late last night. Slowly I began to give myself a lomi lomi massage I learned for digestion. Ahhh… That was better. Then I realized it was true that I wasn’t feeling particularly happy. The truth is I was spent!

Being able to attune to one’s own feelings is one of the most important life skills I can think of. If we don’t, we create inner conflicts that drain us of available energy and make us more sensitive to misunderstandings with others.

How to attune to oneself? It’s simple. All your have to do is to get quiet and ask yourself – What’s happening inside right now? It’s easy to get focused on what’s going on outside of ourselves, especially these days with critical news stories bombarding our psyches all day long. Since most of us are craving unconditional love from difficult childhood family dynamics in the past, it can be challenging to direct our attention inward, but well worth the effort. You can close your eyes and focus your attention on the sensations inside your body. The heart area is a good place to start. The belly and throat are also places where we store lots of undigested emotional stuff. (That’s a technical term!) You can also find a part of the body that feels tight and tense and ask it – What’s going on with you right now?

So, in conclusion, remember this – It’s not what’s happening outside. It’s what’s happening inside! Acknowledging what is really going on inside is key not only to a good relationship with yourself, but with your loved ones as well. Enjoy the many and varied facets of yourself and the emotional landscape that is you!

Are You Spinning Out Yet?

One day last week I found myself really spinning out. I had to cancel a retreat I was offering and back out of some very enjoyable events I had planned. My inner teenager was not happy. She did not appreciate being told that she could not go out and play. It was apparent that I was going to have to take one giant step backward, and I was not having it. I was snippy and testy, and I could feel a huge frown plastered on my face.

The theme of the Equinox retreat was balance, and so I began to ask myself ~ What is so out of balance for me right now that I started spinning out like that?

With our focus being constantly pulled to urgently heed outside events and information, I suspected it was an inward focus that was being interrupted. Well-meaning digital friends try to comfort us with pleasantly distracting content, but, tempting though it is, it is really just momentary, non-nutritious eye candy. What we really need at a time like this is to balance what’s outside with what’s inside. We need more going within. Here are two simple steps for doing just that.

Balancing Inside and OutsideIMG_5176

The first step for going within is simply closing the eyes. Our poor ocular orbs and optic nerve have been bombarded with so much stuff (good and bad) that it is frying our brains!

1. Close your eyes. Now just sit with the pleasure of that simple act. AAAHHHHH…. What a relief to withdraw our attention from alert hypervigilance. This dictionary definition helps explain:

Hypervigilance is an enhanced state of sensory sensitivity accompanied by an exaggerated intensity of behaviors whose purpose is to detect activity. Hypervigilance may bring about a state of increased anxiety which can cause exhaustion. Other symptoms include: abnormally increased arousal, a high responsiveness to stimuli, and a constant scanning of the environment.

2. Deep Breaths – You may notice your breathing spontaneously self-regulate. Exaggerate the breath by breathing in fully into the belly, chest and all the way up into the head. And then exhale briskly through the mouth. Again, inhale fully into the belly, chest, up, up, up into the head. Raising your eyes upward to the third eye helps to disengage the hypervigilant scanning. No effort. Simply allow the eyes to drift upward as the breath goes up.

Keep going. 5, 10, 20 breaths.

Return to your normal breathing and relax. FEEL your body naturally seeking a new state of equilibrium – blood flow, heart rate, tingling, aliveness…

From there, just relax and drop into your expanded heart space. Allow yourself to simple rest in the silence and stillness…. And listen.

What input does your inner self have for you right here, right now? Just notice what comes up for you, and then, when you have had enough, take a deep breath in, stretch and come back to your normal awareness. At this point, you might be inspired to make some art or write down some of the messages you received from your magnificent, deep, soul self. 

Waking Up to Happy Body Morning Bed Ritual

Taking some time in the morning before jumping out of bed is the most luxurious self care practice you can do. I am the Queen of Self Care, and you’re gonna love this! Here is a suggested sequence, but once you start melting into the experience, you might want to just ride the waves of the heightened relaxation response.

Lying on Your Back

  1. Create a big waking up stretch with arms over head and feet pushing in the opposite direction. Breathe in and take little sips of air for as long as you want. Then LET GO and REST. The rests in between are nice and deep because it is easier to really relax in the morning. Melt back into your soft bed and FEEL the accompanying body sensation. Repeat if desired.
  2. Inhale fully. Press your head and heels into the mattress. Hold for 10 sips of breath and again let go, relax and take nice, long slow breaths.

On One Side

  1. Stretch your arms out to the side and knees at 90* angle for a Spinal Twist. You IMG_0466know this one. Just let yourself go in this pose as long as you want with slow, easy deep breaths filling the perineum, belly, lungs and clavicle.
  2. Shoulder/Hip Glide to gently wake up the shoulders and hips. Stretch out arms, hands together and legs bent with knees together. Glide the top hand out and back several times. Now do the same with the top knee. Now do the hand and the knee together out and back. Then hand out and knee back. Rest.

On the Stomach

  1. With your head to one side and hands under the thighs, notice how one nostril is gently closed off. Breathe easily and deeply through the other on for 10 long, slow, deep breaths.
  2. Lift head and legs for Locust for 10 sips of air. Let go and rest.
  3. Turn head to the other side. Again deep, slow breaths through the other nostril.

Move to the Other Side

  1. Repeat Spinal Twist.
  2. Repeat Shoulder/Hip Glide

Back to the Back

  1. Crunch the abs for Forehead to Knees Pose and hold for 10 sips of air. Let go and rest.
  2. Placing hands on thighs, focus your awareness on the 1st Chakra and simply feel the body sensations. Let go and rest deeply.

My friend asked “That’s easy. It’s just a few poses. How long can it take?” This simple practice can easily take 30 minutes depending on how long you want to luxuriate in the flow of Happy Bodyness. Enjoy!

For more Happy Body experiences, please join me at “Awakening to You ~ Spring Equinox Retreat” Sat. March 21st in Half Moon Bay, CA.   Awakening To You!

 

Awakening to You ~ Spring Equinox Retreat

March 21st, 10:30 am – 4:00 pm

equinoxUtopia01

Movement, Sound, Writing and Art for Self Renewal.

How are you being asked to grow personally, professionallyAmyMystic cropped and spiritually right now?
Join me, Amy Sullivan MFT and Modern Day Mystic to explore and experience a transformative day of personal and spiritual growth, in the lush and beautiful Emerging Space Greenhouse.

Breathwork, guided visualization, sound, and movement will support the body in letting go of the old ways of holding making way for new growth. Writing and a powerful, intuitive painting process* will provide the ground for you to get quiet and listen to the inner stirrings of your Soul.

Spring Equinox is an opportunity to balance the inner and the outer worlds. It is a time to awaken to All That We Be as the earth herself is awakening and to join with the balanced flow of energy we are part of.

Tea, snacks and all painting materials provided.

*No experience necessary!

$140.00 Registration –

Eventbrite or email me at sullivamy@yahoo.com 

Please wear comfortable clothing and bring a journal, a yoga mat and blanket.