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.

Mystical Journey for Body & Soul

What are you doing with the magnificent essence that you are this summer? Please consider joining me for this rich experience and a chance to just Beeeeee.

Mystical Journey for Body & Soul: Movement, Sound, Writing & Art to Access your Deepest Knowing

One common habit that leads to suffering is going to thought to know who we are. Instead, we can know the magnificent essence that we are and live from here!           ~Loch Kelly

This class is designed to transport you to a renewed connection with the spaciousness of your Soul Self of Being. Breathing and relaxation techniques along with yoga poses and thumbnailsound healing will assist and support the body in releasing trauma, tension, and pain and restore ease and aliveness. Intentional writing prompts will transform thoughts, emotions and challenges into a state of grace. Joyful art making experiences* will provide a channel for creativity and free up authentic Soul Self expression.

Leave the to-do list and busy mind behind and join me, Amy Sullivan, MFT, Modern Day Mystic, and Certified Professional Yoga Nidra Instructor, with my XL heart chakra crystal singing bowl for a chance to play with the universe and indulge in this thick and velvety form of healing self care.

4 Saturdays in July – July 6, 13, 20 and 27

10:30 am – 1 pm

Register for individual classes ($30./class) here : Eventbrite 

Or text, call or email me for a discounted package of all 4 classes for $100. 

Amy Sullivan – 650-455-2145 or Amy’s email fullsizeoutput_b0a

Moon Mothers Nursery                      401 Prospect Way,                              Half Moon Bay, CA 94019

 

*No experience necessary!

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

Experiencing: Awaken to Your Aliveness

Being mindful is not a matter of thinking more clearly about experience; it is the act of experiencing more clearly. ~Sam Harris

People often comment that they can’t meditate because as soon as they start meditating, the mind starts chattering away, and then, before you know it, the time is up. Does this sound familiar? 

Experiencing is a very satisfying way to approach your meditation time. It is simple to dofullsizeoutput_421 when you focus on the sensations in the body as energy and vibration, and thereby merge into the field of awareness.

Experiencing is different from having an experience, however wonderful that experience might be. It is different from being entertained like watching a movie. It is even different from being mindful. I can be mindful in the way I eat my food, or slow down my pace and walk mindfully. Your awareness is surely heightened, but these are still more like having an experience, memorable though it may be. It is different also from being in the present moment. I like to make a habit of being in the present moment in the grocery check out line. It’s more enjoyable that way, but I am still very aware of my surroundings. With experiencing you lose the awareness of your surroundings and merge into a field of energy. It is not easy to describe without sounding cuckoo. It feels like every single cell in your body just wakes up all at the same time.

Daydreaming can be a form of experiencing if you are conscious that you are indeed daydreaming. To experience you do enter a trance-like state of being. There is ordinary reality when you are thinking and doing and planning and taking care of things. Then there is non-ordinary reality where you are tuned in to the awareness of you at this moment in time and space. 

I find it difficult to experience with my eyes open. Open eyes directs the awareness outside. Although it can be done and concentration on body sensations can be maintained, the eyes are quick to pick up things to focus on. Then the mind immediately enters and follows up with a story about that thing.

Staying present with what is is a subtle pursuit and the mind becomes easily bored. “Really? Is this all we are doing right now? Is this really doing anything anyway?” Actually, no. It’s the opposite of doing – simply being and feeling.

fullsizeoutput_9f4When you bring your attention inside, it can feel very intense. At times it’s difficult to stay with the intensity, and so, in a split second, the mind is back telling stories and hashing things out. Ego jumps in and wants to make sure s/he is not to blame for any problems or concerns that arise, and, before you know it, you are back to the races with the busy mind chitter chattering away.

Then the task becomes to refocus on the sensations in the body as energy and vibration, slow the breath and settle in to stillness and silence. To heighten the sense of aliveness, tune in to the heartbeat and the flow of blood in the body.

Feel it, be it, experience it. You are alive! Awaken to your aliveness!

Getting Connected

As a modern day mystic, I tend to see things differently. Take laws and the legal system for instance. There are laws that govern our cities, states and country, which are supposedly  there to protect us, but they operate on so many assumptions that are contrary to the mystical, sacred way.

I tend to resonate more with natural laws that indigenous people all over the world ascribe to.  Like plants and animals, we are inextricably a part of nature. Laws of balance, harmony, growth, birth and death govern us no matter what country we happen to be a citizen of. There are spiritual laws like reciprocity, intention, karma, animism, magic, miracles, alignment, and receptivity. There are subatomic, micro-level  quantum laws like resonance, vibration and frequency.

For native people, for instance, you can’t own property. The land is an entity in and of itself which cannot be possessed or owned. This makes sense to me especially since my house is situated in a flood zone which could be under water with sea level rise in the next 50-100 years. Who would own a piece of property that is under water? That brings me to the law of impermanence. When I started meditating and opening to feeling and sensation that was constantly changing in my body, I had to become more comfortable with detaching. Since everything is constantly changing, attachment to people, places and things is not only unwise, it also can cause a great deal of suffering as Buddha says.

Remember the story of Julia Butterfly Hill, environmental activist and tree sitter, who sat in a giant redwood tree for 738 days to save it from being cut down? She was standing up for the rights of the tree. Does a tree have rights? Not according to the logging industry.

Have you seen the Herzog movie “Where the Green Ants Dream?” It’s about a clash between the aborigines and the Australian government that wanted to put a road through aboriginal land. It was slated to be cut through an area where the aborigines believed that the green ants dream. If you plough through there, it would disturb the green ants’ dreaming and that would be the end of life. They resisted by squatting in that area and nearly got bulldozed over.

These are examples of people who are sensitive to the life beyond the veil – between the worlds. As you start getting deeper into your spiritual work, you start to grasp the idea that all is not as it appears. You start to become sensitive to deep feeling and sensation that is alive in everything – even a rock is alive. There is an invisible energy in everything even inanimate objects.

I can’t tell you exactly what this invisible realm is like, but I can feel it in my body when I drop into stillness and silence and get connected.

Experience – Getting Connected

This experience will give you a glimpse into what it’s like to go beyond the veil and awaken to both worlds.

Take a moment to drop in to your body right now. Notice any tension perhaps in your stomach, shoulders, jaw or eyes. Notice how that tension is a way of resisting the full experience of you in this present moment beyond time and space.

Ask yourself – what is that about? Why might I be resisting. Is there fear, anger, sadness? What might that be about? What’s keeping me from surrendering to the ever changing flux of the present?

Tune into your breath. What is the quality of your breath? Are you restricting your breath?

Invite in more and more sensation and feeling with the intention of tolerating greater levels of intensity. Allow yourself to experience greater degree of aliveness as you push the boundaries of your comfort zone.

Enjoy surfing between the two worlds, physical and non-physical, enticing yourself to experience more and more sensation for a little longer.

What did you learn from that? Get out your journal and write down your impressions right away.

 

Daughter of the Revolution

My latest rap song……………

Daughter of the Revolution

I’ve been used and abused, maligned and accused. I’ve been raped and pushed aside, silenced and gagged.

My heart is aching. My third eye is open. My soul is witness to all that is. But I’m getting weary of all this gropin’.

I’ve been overfed and starved, body shamed and back bitten. I’m qualified and certified and soft as a kitten

Chorus: Sometimes I can’t watch. And sometimes I can’t listen to what’s goin’ on. What’s goin’ on. What’s goin’ on. What’s goin’ on.                                                                                 How does it feel to be a sister,  a mother, a daughter, a lover of the revolution? Let’s get it on. Let’s get it on. Let’s get it on. Let’s get it on

I’ve been bought and I’ve been sold. My information shared and doled. Been drugged and overdosed, poisoned and GMOed.

The sea level is rising, which is not surprising. Stopped being complicit and made that explicit. I’ve used my words and I-statements too, cried until I was blue.

Pink pussy hat, jeans tattered and torn, I’ve nearly bled to death. Thought I was right. Always leaned to the left

Still I dance in the moonlight, and march on the beach, achieve states of bliss just out of reach

I’ve done it all. Been f***ed over, raped and groped, forced into submission, and been a big dope.

I’ve been called a dirty whore, swam in a sea of shame. I said no – and he came. And I’m a colonial dame.

Chorus: Sometimes I can’t watch. And sometimes I can’t listen to what’s goin’ on. What’s goin’ on. What’s goin’ on. What’s goin’ on.                                                                                  I’m a sister. I’m a mother. I’m a daughter. I’m a lover of the revolution. Let’s get it on. Let’s get it on. Let’s get it on. Let’s get it on.

I’ve been wet as a whistle, been dry as a bone, been hot as a tamale, been cold as a fish and made you wish you could have some of this.

I’ve kept secrets I no longer want to keep. My third eye is open. I’m not going back to sleep.

I am finding my voice. The sleigh bells are ringing. I can’t carry a tune, but this caged bird is singing.

Chorus: Sometimes I can’t watch. And sometimes I can’t listen to what’s goin’ on. What’s goin’ on. What’s goin’ on. What’s goin’ on.                                                                                  How does it feel to be a sister, a mother, a daughter, a lover of the revolution? Let’s get it on, sister. Let’s get it on, sister. Let’s get it on, sister. Let’s get it on, sister.

Amy Sullivan                                                                                                                                       ☮️ Oct. 5, 2018

Why Nature

I like to use nature to get to what is really going on with me, because it is the opposite of and the antidote to cultural conditioning. Cultural conditioning is what you grew up within your family of origin. It includes expectations that were handed to you by the overculture – school, church, commercials, peer group, etc. Our response to this pressure to conform and these very powerful multi-generational messages is operating in the unconscious, but it is repressed. That means that it has been stored away so that we can perform everyday tasks and meet the demands of our families, jobs and the overculture.

You know that your unconscious is getting stirred up when you have the following:

  1. Nightmares – Nightmares indicate that your unconscious is upset and trying to process something that does not feel right.
  2. Emotional funk. Anger, sadness, fears, all feelings really are there to help us wake up.
  3. Obsessiveness. This is the way the mind tries to “help” us not feel the pain and suffering that is below the surface.
  4. Need to control, manage or fix people, places or things. This is the inner two year old saying that if everybody would just do everything the way I say, then I’ll feel okay.
  5. Accidents. There are no accidents.
  6. Addictions and compulsions. Substances, sex, food, habits, behaviors used to self medicate the pain away.

These are all indicators that your unconscious is trying to get your attention. It wants you to pay attention because there is something that is just not right. Your body-being knows the truth of who you really are – a beautiful, loving and radiant being. However, you may have gotten the opposite impression growing up. You may have heard quite the opposite of that from parents, teachers and religious personages. Or you may have picked up the vibration of some core deficiency in your character along the way. Basically, it is that voice that tells you that you are not smart, patient, loving, helpful, hardworking, kind, or contained enough. Or you are too much – too loud, aggressive, lazy, outspoken, emotional, negative, needy, greedy, sinful, gluttonous, or sexual.

Anyway, nature offers us a fresh look at ourselves from our more natural, animalistic, instinctual, spontaneous, expressive, connected self. Nature has the capacity to offer us a direct line to our basic true selves, although we may have to use a different part of our brain that is more receptive to the information – our metaphorical mind.

I was walking with a client in nature once, encouraging this person to stop talking about his story, and, instead, pay attention and just notice whatever he noticed. Just then a flock of seagulls squawked and flapped all around us. He was somewhat perturbed because he was expecting something a little more delicate. He questioned my premise that nature offered a connection, for surely this intrusion was clearly just a distraction. The further we investigated the gift from the natural world, the more he started to realize that the experience was similar to the flock of thoughts that tend to inundate his mind every time he attempts to get quiet and get to know himself – to get close to himself.

It wasn’t nature that was distracting him. It was nature that was reminding him of his own tendency to distract himself from experiencing himself, and what was really going on – his feelings, his inner voice and knowingness.

 

Feelin’ Goooooood

What does it say about modern society that so many people need medication(s) just to function on a daily basis? What has changed in the last 100 years that makes it so we can’t cope?

As therapists, we are taught that we are to defer to the medical profession when treating mental-emotional disorders. Doctor knows best. What do doctors really have to offer us besides medications?

I love that scene in Sisters, a movie with Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, in which they are trying to get their party started with a bunch of 40 somethings who have forgotten how to party. To loosen everyone up, Tina’s character calls in a drug dealer, Pazuzu, played skillfully by John Cena. She asks him what he’s got in his medical bag, and it takes him 5 minutes to run down all the drugs he has to offer, 90% of which are NOT illegal. Here’s a clip.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_XAKjc2gIfo&t=10s

This medicated mindset comes from well meaning, smart, educated people all working really hard to try to make us feel good! There is a thick, all-inclusive, self help manual by well renowned doctor and teacher, David Burns, MD with that exact title – Feeling Good. In case you are interested, there’s even one for couples called Feeling Good Together!

The Buddha also wanted to end suffering, and that is the goal of Buddhist practice, but the approach is basically the opposite. The cause of suffering is attachment to wanting to feel good. The more you cling to the need to feel good, the more distraught and disappointed you become.

While meditating you learn that your suffering or dissatisfaction is directly related to attitudes that arise within your own heart and mind. You become aware of the fleeting nature of your thoughts and emotions, and you basically give up your restless seeking for something better and thus bring dissatisfaction to an end. No thing is ever going to make you happy. And on top of that, happiness is actually right under your nose. According to a certain parable, underneath the floor of the poor man’s house lies a great treasure.

This wisdom develops over a lifetime, and in the details of the difficulties of everyday life and social interactions, which become increasingly more interesting as we become conscious of our limiting and downright crazy thoughts.

Think about it ~jealousy, greed, hatred, fear, desire ~ What are these things anyway?